Professors from Illinois State University’s College of Business have partnered with COUNTRY Financial to research financial literacy among undergraduate students at the University.  Financial literacy can include such things as budgeting, the use of credit cards, debt management, and saving for the future.

COUNTRY Financial funded the survey, which was developed for Illinois State University freshmen and seniors from various majors across campus.  The findings indicate that increased attention to financial literacy through education opportunities will benefit Illinois State students.

Although seniors scored higher than freshman, only 70 percent of the financial knowledge items were correctly answered by seniors. Students with greater financial experience tend to score higher on financial literacy, as do business majors. High levels of financial literacy observed for business majors indicate that there is a strong need to reach out across campus to other students pursuing non-business majors and provide opportunities to help improve their financial capability.

“Financial literacy as a research topic is important in general because consumer financial decisions are becoming more complex over time,” said Gary Koppenhaver, professor and chair of the Department of Finance, Insurance and Law.  “The costs of financial ignorance are increasing, and these costs have the potential to affect the transition to financial independence as a life goal of young adults.”

Comparing the financial literacy of freshmen to the financial literacy of graduating seniors allows the University to understand the role of maturity in financial literacy, and may suggest non-credit programming to enhance the student educational experience.

The survey findings help COUNTRY Financial understand a large population of young adults who are future employees and customers.  “Illinois State continuously provides informative and thought-provoking research which educates and informs our programs and the way we do business,” said Steve Denault, executive vice president of enterprise business services at COUNTRY Financial.

COUNTRY Financial also funded a grant to conduct a case study concerning the preparedness of business teacher education majors to teach personal financial literacy courses at the secondary level.  This study was conducted by College of Business Assistant Professor Tamra Davis.

The findings concluded that the student teachers surveyed who had additional financial literacy training felt more confident teaching advanced financial literacy skills.  The survey results were published in the Texas Business and Technology Educators Association Journal.

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