FINANCIAL AIDES: Brown University was among the schools to recently implement financial-literacy programs for their students. Pictured above, from left, are the architects of the program; Loan-Office Manager Keirsten Connor, Assistant Director of Financial Aid Elizabeth Murphy and Financial Services Director Wynette Richardson Zuppardi.
PBN PHOTO/NATALJA KENT
By Rebecca Keister PBN Staff Writer
You may have heard of Justin Beiber. You might be surprised just how much your college-aged child knows about him.
While some might find it frightful enough that their offspring are fans of the baby-faced crooner, of larger concern, local educators say, is that your child probably knows more about Beiber, celebrity award shows and tabloid fodder than they do about managing their finances.
Kathi Tavares, director of student billing and collections at Johnson & Wales University, said she was made aware of this fact reading responses from a forum through iGrad, Web-based software for financial literacy the school recently purchased and co-branded for students.
When asked on the forum about how much debt they have from student loans, most students didn’t know – but they knew plenty about “the Biebs,” as he is called.
“One girl finally says, ‘I guess the point is I should know more about [my loans] than pop culture,” Tavares said.
Johnson & Wales and Brown University both recently implemented new financial-literacy programs for their students based on founded concerns that graduates were leaving the schools ill-equipped to face their financial futures in a world of economic uncertainty.
And though Tavares said JWU created a university task force to address the issue after finance experts there grew disturbed that the national student debt last spring reached $1 trillion, the issue goes far beyond loan borrowing and repayment.
The FINRA Investor Education Foundation’s 2010 State-by-State financial-capability survey found that 23 percent of Americans aged 18-34 were spending more than their household income and that 68 percent of that age bracket did not have enough money set aside to cover their life expenses for three months.
A 2011 Capitol One survey of graduating college seniors reported that only 43 percent were putting money into savings on at least a monthly basis and that 36 percent reported they are not putting money into a savings fund on a regular basis.