Teaching financial literacy to high school students – Community College Daily

The average debt of Gen Z in the United States — those aged 18 to 23 — is just over $16,000, according to a recent report from cnbc.com. For their immediate elders, the Millennials, it is nearly $87,500.

A Butler County Community College (BC3) The financial literacy course emphasizes the importance of budgeting, saving, investing, and weighing career choices against financial decisions. Nearly 40 local high school students are taking a financial literacy course this spring at Pennsylvania College’s main campus as part of an inaugural dual-enrollment Early College Pioneers program that began in August.

“I had no idea what this class was,” student Delaney Dunmire said. “We were all looking up class. ‘What is that?’ We had never heard of it before.

Financial literacy is important because high school students are preparing for their future, said Julianne Louttit, director of financial aid at BC3. Louttit and Sherri Mack, BC3’s acting dean of business, teach the one-credit financial literacy course to the college’s first class on Friday mornings.

“A key part of the course is understanding student loans,” Louttit said, “and financial aid at all types of colleges.”

According to cnbc.com, America’s millennials (those ages 24 to 40) owe an average of $39,000 on student loans. That’s about half of their average debt of nearly $87,500.

High school students need to understand the return on investment of their career choice versus the student loan debt they may rack up, Louttit said.

“With a four-year degree in certain fields, you can start with a salary of around $50,000,” Louttit said. “There are all kinds of tools and resources to review for different careers. Does it make sense to have $80,000 in student loan debt when you’re going to start with an $50,000 salary and that four-year degree can be made more affordable by starting at a community college and then transferring ?

“It’s not that I’m trying to scare them. But they need to see reality.

‘Harmful’ student loan debt

The average student loan debt for the Pennsylvania class of 2019 was $38,521, according to an April 2021 report in LendEDU, a website that provides comparisons for loans, credit cards, and other financial products. .

“It definitely extends their ability to move on their own,” Louttit said. “Some students are coming back from college and it’s not affordable to go out and live because of that student loan payment.”

Seventy percent of the BC3 class of 2021 graduated debt-free.

Student loan debt “is harmful. It’s really bad,” said Madison Weiland, a former college attendee. “That’s why I go to BC3. It would be stupid not to take your general credits here and then transfer them. Some of the teachers we had here also teach (in a regional private institution). It’s the same class, but different prices.

In addition to student loan debt and how career choices compare to financial decisions, Early College Pioneers in BC3’s financial literacy course learned about accrued interest, auto loans, credit cards, and more. , mortgages and stock exchanges.

Understanding “commitment”

Tony Shakely earned an associate’s degree from BC3 and a bachelor’s degree from Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania. He is a commercial credit officer at Armco Credit Union. The BC3 Education Foundation Board Chair discussed financial literacy with Early College Pioneers in March.

“I think it’s important for the student to fully understand the obligation they’re taking on with a student loan,” Shakely said. “It’s very easy in high school to talk about going to college and all these big plans. It’s another thing to sit down and calculate what those monthly payments are going to be for 10, 20, or even 30 years after graduation.

“I don’t think most kids understand the commitment that’s going to be involved.”

Dunmire does. Payge Kirmeyer does. Darby Miller does.

“Most of the people I’ve talked to who have gone to college are actually going to BC3,” said Dunmire, who plans to enroll in BC3 this fall. “They know college debt can be bad…and they’re glad they went here.”

Best salary/cost ratio

First college pioneers Kirmeyer and Miller also plan to enroll in BC3.

“The fewer BC3 debts I have, one, I can pay them off faster and two, every time I move, I don’t have debts that prevent me from being able to get a house or another car or a another loan,” Kirmeyer said. “My brothers are both in college, so I know how interest (on student loans) can add up,” Miller said. “Financial aid helps, but there is still a lot of debt.”

BC3 had the highest ratio of graduate salaries 10 years after commencement for every dollar a student pays to attend BC3, surpassing the ratios of 41 other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio whose information from the United States Department of Education was analyzed in 2018 by the Pittsburgh. Business time.

Dunmire and her classmates now understand the financial literacy course, she said.

“We’re coming to college very soon,” Dunmire said. “It’s just around the corner. So all those things that we weren’t prepared for, we finally get them. We are learning how we are going to have to deal with these loans. How we will help prepare them. How should we save for them. These are things we should be looking at. Instead of going straight to a big university, try a community college to help cover those costs.

Sarah J. Greer