Students need basic financial education

Champlain College, a small college in Vermont, requires all undergraduates to take two sessions in financial literacy.

The seminars, focusing on life skills and personal finance, cover a variety of financial concepts from understanding credit to repaying student loans.

Such educational resources are students’ best defense against financial pitfalls. There is an urgent need for financial education and resources for college students to prevent bad habits from starting early.

But instead, financial literacy often falls through the educational cracks.

As one of the strongest business schools in the nation, the Marshall School of Business should take a proactive approach toward financial literacy by offering classes on the subject.

Last spring, Katie Price, a senior majoring in finance and accounting, organized a personal finance speaker series, much in the same vein as Champlain’s seminars.

She felt a pressing need for students, as individuals with personal financial responsibility and as active consumers, to understand how to handle money.

“[Financial education] is one of the most important things that a person can learn, particularly given all of the stuff that’s happened the past few years. It feels like it doesn’t matter yet, but it should,” Price said. “There are a lot of actions kids can take in their young twenties to set themselves up to have an easier time transitioning in the future.”

Price brought in professionals such as local real estate agents and Morgan Stanley wealth managers to discuss the fundamentals of finance. Four sessions were held on real estate, wealth management, budgeting and taxes.

The USC Credit Union has put together similar money management seminars for USC students, faculty and staff. The seminars begin in February and cover a range of key concepts, from student loan repayment to home buying basics.

As young college students, buying a home or retiring might seem far off. It probably is, but that doesn’t make  planning for it any less important.

For those who didn’t learn about managing money while growing up, there is no better place than college to acquire that education. Even learning the most basic money concepts is crucial for a job-searching student.

College is meant to prepare us to be exceptional in whatever field we might enter in the future. But beyond being students or professionals, we are individuals with needs and goals, many of those governed by money.

David Finney, president of Champlain, expressed a hope that the college’s seminars will become a national model for financial education.

I hope so too.

Events such as the speaker series that Price put together and the upcoming Credit Union seminars bring USC closer to the forefront of developing such a model.

Price does not have the  proper resources to run the speaker series again, despite student interest.

In today’s economic climate, financial literacy is becoming increasingly essential to individual security and the healthy of society, in both the short-term and long-term.

At a university with a world-class business school and a wealth of resources, USC students should not be left without a basic financial education.

Elena Kadvany is a junior majoring in Spanish.