Study Indicates Financial Lit Programs Have Effect

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None too surprisingly, a new study says that students who participated in a financial literacy program are showing significant improvement in their financial knowledge, behavior and confidence immediately after completing the course.

The study, conducted over an 18-month period and involving more than 200 teachers and 5,300 high school students across the nation, measured students' improvement after taking part in the High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP), which is offered by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) and supported by CUNA.

The HSFPP requires students to receive as little as 10 hours in financial literacy classes. CUNA sponsors the program, in conjunction with NEFE and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service. Among the study's findings:

* About 60% of the students who take part in the program increased their knowledge about the cost of credit, auto insurance and investments.

* After participating, about 40% begin to write goals for managing their money, to save for their needs and wants, and to track their expenses.

* About 41% of the students increase their confidence in making financial decisions.

* Three months after completing the curriculum, 59% of students who took the course indicated they have changed their spending habits. The primary behavior change is that students said they now only purchase things that they really need, and that they spend more wisely.

* 60% said they have changed their savings patterns.

* 80% of the students say they now save for what they really need or want, and 20% indicated that they now save every time they receive money.

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