Financial Literacy Month Recap

Posted on May 23, 2013 by Annie Do.

We recently finished National Financial Capability month in April and it was a great success! With the rising costs of college and a new class of students preparing to attend, it is more important than ever for students to think about choosing among postsecondary education options, be familiar with the different types of aid available to them, as well as prepare for the complicated process of repaying their loans after they graduate. Our Senior Advisor on Financial Education Dr. David Soo attended several events for this important month.

David went to Prince George’s County Spaulding Library in District Heights, Maryland (just outside of Washington, DC) to participate in learning financial literacy the fun way: through playing Monopoly.  A group of more than 20 students had gathered there to play Monopoly and learn some of the basics about financial literacy.  He spoke to the students about the importance of financial literacy, learning how to manage your expenses early on, and postsecondary education plans.  As the director of the program told the Washington Post, “‘We’re trying to teach them financial literacy, but we don’t tell them that,’ said Kim Carrington, the Prince George’s substitute teacher and parent activist who started the program. ‘We tell them what a great game it is.’”

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David also attended Financial Literacy Day on Capitol Hill 2013, an event co-hosted by  US Representative Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) (pictured) and U.S. Representative Steven Stivers (R-OH). The annual event is designed to increase financial literacy and awareness for Hill staffers and others.  More than 60 participants from a wide range of businesses, non-profits, academic associations, etc. presented a host of resources and initiatives that included products and programs focused on the advancement of financial literacy.

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David also participated in the Investing in Our Future Conference at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB).  This conference brought together a diverse group of practitioners, innovators, researchers, policymakers, and funders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.  The day was designed to highlight promising practices, critical challenges, and opportunities in promoting the financial capability of children and youth populations.  David spoke on one of the plenary panels entitled, “Learning by Doing: The Role of Innovation in Promoting Youth Financial Capability.”  He spoke about some of the new ways that organizations are engaging children and youth in financial education, including through games, simulations, and online modules.

The Department of Education, the Department of Labor, and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards hosted a webinar for graduating seniors and early-career workers entitled “Start Early to Take Charge of Your Financial Future.”  About 400 of people attended and -learned about managing debt from student loans and credit cards, saving and investing for short and long-term goals, making the most of employer-sponsored retirement and health benefits, and other aspects of personal finance management. Encouraging student participation, US Under Secretary of Education Martha Kanter said, “College graduation is a critical time for students to learn more about managing their finances.  Many students will be making student loan payments, managing expenses, and saving for their first car or home. They will be faced with numerous decisions that require practical knowledge about budgeting, saving, and maximizing employer-sponsored benefits, to name a few. This webinar will help students take important steps in planning for financial security.”

To reach President Obama’s 2020 goal of leading the world in college attainment, students need to learn and prepare early on for the rising costs of college. Financial Literacy Month was a great success, but it will only be effective if we continue the conversation. Be sure to review all the resources that the Federal Student Aid Office has to assist students with paying for college and paying off their loans after college.

Annie Do is an Undergraduate Student at the University of California, Irvine and served as a Spring 2013 Intern with the Office of the Under Secretary.

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