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Getting Interactive with Financial Literacy

By: TXCAN   |   January 2022

Drawing upon the Trellis Student Financial Wellness Survey Results, learn why it is so important to engage with financial literacy to prepare students for access and persistence in postsecondary education.

We all know committing to pursue a post-secondary degree or certification requires a great deal of time and financial resources. However, relaying this information in a way that can be easily grasped is often difficult when working with young adults. One way to bolster these efforts is by providing real-world examples such as those found in the Trellis Student Financial Wellness Survey Results. The Trellis Survey was conducted in the Fall of 2020 and received responses from over 37,000 students from both four-year and two-year institutions. Some of the key findings from the survey center on financial confidence, support, and stress.

For example, only “two percent of students at four-year institutions and six percent at two-year institutions relied solely on personal savings and current employment to pay for college”! This means over 90% of students utilize at least one form of financial aid to assist with paying for post-secondary education. These students are relying on us, now more than ever, to be familiar with the various streams of financial aid resources and to continue the conversation around financial aid past simply completing FAFSA or TASFA. These financial concerns are further compounded by the continuing COVID-19 pandemic. 

However, financial aid is not the only other source of funding students rely on to pay for college, as many of them rely on financial help from their families. Looking back to Fall 2020, over 55% of all two-year and four-year students felt a worsening in their family’s financial situation, and over 80% of all students reported increases in stress, anxiety, or depression. Having conversations early with students that cover their plan to use all these funding sources can prepare students to mitigate these stressors before starting school. Financial contingency plans, award letter review workshops, and financial literacy FAQ handouts are all key interventions capable of deepening a student’s comprehension of financial literacy.      

Underpinning this entire conversation is the lack of confidence students have in making financial decisions. According to the Trellis report, only “eight percent for four-year students and seven percent for students at two-year institutions—are totally confident in their financial decision making, while about 20 percent of students were mostly confident”. However, if confidence is built through practice, how do you gain experience without potentially losing valuable and limited resources? One answer is to use interactive activities.
Outlined below are four interactive activities, shared by SchooLinks, aimed at deepening financial literacy.
  1. Payback - allows students to practice making decisions on how to spend their money as they attend college
  2. Financial Football - NFL-themed game and series of lessons that teach students about budgeting, saving and spending, and how to use credit wisely
  3. Hit the Road: A Financial Adventure - In the game, students simulate taking a cross-country trip with three friends. Along the way, they must have enough money for food, gas, and any obstacles that arise.
  4. The Uber Game - allows students to explore the dynamics of the gig economy. In the game, the player is an Uber driver with a family and must work and manage the family budget.
Using fun interactive tools such as these can help make conversations about finances seem less daunting and expose students to new ways of thinking about finances. By allowing students to gain insight and understanding of not just financial aid but their personal finances, we can not only prepare our students to access a postsecondary education but to also persist. We hope this information and these resources give you the confidence to tackle this delicate topic and, as always, don’t forget to take full advantage of all the other resources available on the TxCAN Blog and Resources page.
The Texas College Access Network (TxCAN) connects and supports college access initiatives across Texas, with the goal of increasing access to college and certificate programs.