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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

There Is a Financial Literacy Vacuum in Higher Education

Students need to get a better grasp of money-matters
Students need to get a better grasp of money-matters

When it comes to making financial decisions, the choice to pursue a college degree is one of the most high-risk, high-reward investments an individual will make in their lifetime. The decision is high-risk in the sense that university tuition prices are continuing to skyrocket and that more and more students are taking more than four years to complete their undergraduate educations. Yet the decision is high-reward in that more occupations require applicants to have a college degree, and the earning potential for college graduates continues to be much greater than those with some or no college education.

What is becoming increasingly evident, however, is that there is an overall lack of understanding of how paying for college works and what exactly a university does with the tuition and fees it collects from each student. There is a high level of financial illiteracy amongst the general public, and several corporations and institutions are taking advantage of the fact that most people simply do not read and understand the contracts that they sign and the bills that they pay.

Taking advantage of the public has led to countless national tragedies in the past few decades, such as the 2008 economic recession. The best thing the public can do to protect themselves from further deception and manipulation is to either demand that public and private institutions become more transparent and make their paperwork easier to understand, or put forth a renewed effort to teach personal finance and financial literacy to the next generation of consumers.

Given the current political reality, it appears highly unlikely that either the public or private sector would be willing to change how they operate in order to protect the public, so there must be an initiative to make personal finance a standard curriculum requirement in either high school or as a general education requirement in college.

Most students believe that general education requirements have little to no impact on their majors, let alone their lives, and are simply another method for universities to keep them longer in school. Personal finance, however, is a lifelong practice with very real consequences for those who are untrained in how to manage their finances. Institutions are already licking their chops at the prospect of hundreds of thousands of young consumers who do not know the consequences of unwise spending.

Understanding how to make a budget and stick to it is one of the most fundamental living skills that any individual must know if they plan on living a debt-free life. There are currently no initiatives at the state or federal level that require young adults or adults in general to become educated in personal finance.

The government is doing a great disservice to incoming generations by failing to provide them with the means to protect themselves from the treacherous business practices of morally corrupt corporations. Until something is done to combat this growing problem amongst today’s generation, more and more individuals are going to pay dearly to profit the criminal enterprises of a select few.