Best Practices for Financial Literacy and Education at Institutions of Higher Education
financial education program components, government and institutional mandates
Institutions of higher education play an important role in our society and our economy, developing educated citizens and skilled workers who are vital to America’s well-being. In addition to this broad benefit, postsecondary education is valuable to many individuals, resulting in higher earnings and less unemployment across their lives. The impact of higher education is expected to grow, as an increasing number of jobs in the future are expected to require some kind of postsecondary credential. Along with preparing the workforce, institutions of higher education can prepare their students to make financial choices throughout their lives that enable them to effectively participate in our economy, build wealth, and attain their goals. Critical decisions that students and families make before, during, and after their postsecondary education influence their financial future. These include choices around selecting an institution and degree, managing money while studying, planning for the completion of their education, and managing student debt post-completion. The complex financial choices students must make are compounded by the fact that, for decades, the cost of college has been rising far faster than incomes. Between 2004- 05 and 2015-16, prices for undergraduate tuition, fees, room, and board at public institutions rose 34 percent, after adjustment for inflation. Students and their families have increasingly taken on debt to pay for college. Currently, most student debt consists of federal government loans, which now totals more than $1.5 trillion, owed by 43 million individuals, or over $33,000 per borrower on average. This rising cost of tuition and student debt is even more troubling when considering recent survey data that found one in five adults who attended college believe the cost of their education exceeded the financial benefit it produced.