Strong Palliative, But Not a Panacea: Results of an Experiment Teaching Students About Financial Literacy

    Vol. 35, No. 2, 2005 p. 7 

    by Karen Gross, Joanne Ingham, and Richard Matasar

    Although rising student debt levels are frequently studied, very little attention has been paid to the lack of student financial literacy and its negative effects. The absence of financial management skills and accompanying low credit scores can increase debt, cause inadvertent defaults, and be harmful for both students and their institutions. For these reasons, one Northeastern law school designed, instituted, and studied a pilot financial literacy education course for its law students. This paper presents a detailed description of this course, which was offered on a one-credit, pass/ fail basis over a two-day (14-hour) period. The study involved focus groups and a pre- and post-test questionnaire that was conducted to test its efficacy. The article also describes adaptations made to the course following the study and makes suggestions for course replication. As the study demonstrates, teaching financial literacy to students has measurable benefits, and the prospect of implementing a similar course in a variety of graduate and undergraduate settings merits serious attention. The article also describes avenues for important additional research, including on the longitudinal benefits of financial management education.