College Connect: College Students Lack Training in Financial Literacy

Posted By Crystal Beasley

By Shannon Duffy

Nearing graduation, Caskey Dyer feels optimistic about his post-graduation job options. Dyer’s education in international affairs at the University of Georgia has equipped him to intern with Georgia Rep. Park Cannon, work as a teacher’s assistant and publish work on housing inequality.

Yet, his high school and college courses left one glaring gap in Dyer’s education: financial literacy.

Swarn Chatterjee, associate professor of financial planning in the department of financial planning, housing and consumer economics at UGA, described financial literacy as “the ability to understand how money works.”

Like many of his peers, Dyer has depended on his parents for money throughout college and lacks experience managing his own finances. As a result of their financial illiteracy, students experience economic uncertainty and anxiety.

“I don’t do much to keep track of money because similarly to checking my email, whenever I check my bank account on my phone it’s always a horrifying experience,” said Dyer.

At age 21, Dyer lacks skills to budget, plan for his own insurance, and save for retirement.

Though he has taken courses on international political economy and the history of economic thought, Dyer feels ill-equipped for personal money management. Aside from a quick online course administered by his high school, he has not received any formal financial education.

“It was just a one-off thing senior year of high school, and it was treated as another assignment. I don’t think was very helpful,” said Dyer.

According to Chatterjee, Dyer’s experience is not uncommon. Only 17 states require personal finance courses, and there is a lack of uniformity within each program.

“In math, you know you’ll be doing x, y, and z things. We don’t have it the same way for financial literacy. It’s still in its infancy in terms of how the curriculum is being built,” said Chatterjee.

Beyond high school curriculum, Chatterjee advocates for workplace courses that coincide with major life events such as paying college tuition, applying for mortgages and planning for retirement.

“I’m a proponent of there being a continuing sort of education with financial literacy so beyond just high schools or colleges. Every stage has a different need for new knowledge in terms of financial matters,” said Chatterjee.

After his single online course, Dyer feels he could have benefited from Chatterjee’s model.

“I would have loved some financial literacy training in college because then I think it would have been a lot more real for me. And I would have understood its usefulness,” said Dyer.

Reaching the end of his degree Dyer feels more confident in his ability to debate and write about economic theories than to manage a savings account. His lack of personal financial training has left him with an ominous view of his education and future prospects.

“I think that would be the biggest irony: If I learned a lot about financial s. . . . but could only use it to write,” said Dyer.

Shannon Duffy is a junior studying journalism at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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