Improving Financial Literacy Across University of Dubuque’s Campus

Updated May 21, 2021

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Improving Financial Literacy Across University of Dubuque’s Campus essay

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The commitment for students to continue their education after high school is one that many students believe will better their futures, however over that past decade, college costs have continued to rise (Federal Reserve, 2018). This increase places a significant financial burden on many of the students and their families, the results of this is more borrowing. A significant financial burden can cause financial stress, which has been found to be the number one stressor for most people in the United States also resulting in high blood pressure and depression (American Psychological Association, 2016, Bethune, 2015).

University of Dubuque’s (UD) student population consists of nearly 2,000 undergraduate students with for first-year students, 93% are currently accepting some form of financial aid in order to attend our university, 81% accept federal student loans, and 28% must seek out other forms of loans (National Center for Education Statistic, 2019). Those who are not first-year students and accept federal student loans, consist of 72% of the student population (NCES, 2019). Because of these statistics, it is critical that we develop a solution that educates and supports our students during their time at UD and their life after graduation.

There have been many models for financial literacy programs, along with best practices for institutions to provide their students. This proposed intervention specifically looks at the implementation of a required course for all of UD freshmen students. As Morrison, President and CEO of the Council for Economic Education states that “to be successful, most [students] don’t need to learn about collateralized debt instruments, but they do need to know how to open a bank account, how much they need to save each month to reach their goals and, if they borrow this amount of money, how much money they will need to earn to pay it back” (Schwartz, 2016). Making the major goal of this course for students to increase their knowledge and confidence to support themselves, their families, and their communities and to develop an understanding of the financial world in which they live and work (Maryland, 2015).

The mandatory personal finance course proposed will outline a program that targets financial literacy education. This course will provide students with the skills and understanding needed for them to obtain personal and fiscal responsibility related to financial planning, savings, and investments. Students will explore the relationship between their possible income which will be based upon their desired career goals.

Topics will be discussed such as financial aid, loans, money management, benefit packages, credit and debt management, insurance, and taxes. As mentioned previously between 70 and 80 percent of the UD student population rely on federal student loans, the average student debt that is accumulated is around $35,000 for a bachelor’s degree (National Student Loan Data System, 2018). Nearly forty-four million individuals are impacted by student loan debt, making the federal student debt rise to $1.5 trillion, the second highest debt category.

In 2015, 11.5% of college graduates were more than ninety days late in making their payments, it could be correlated that as student debt rises, so would the number of students who defer on their loans. (Nasiripour, 2015). Another way that individuals can occur debt is through credit cards, 71% of the population has at least one credit card and 26% have at least four (FINRA Investor Education Foundation, 2015). These numbers show that it is essential for students to take a course that is require by the University of Dubuque to learn to manage their debt, credit, budget their money and so much more in order increase the likeliness for them to live happy successful lives.

This personal finance course will consist of students completing one credit hour, twenty-four contact hours with their instructor. The course will occur during either two seventy-five-minute classes or three fifty-minute classes over the course of seven weeks. The choice of whether students take this course during the fall or spring semesters as well as whether it occurs during the first half of the semester or the second half of the semester. There will be between 15 to 20 students in each class offered during those time. The university would need to hire more instructors, to teach this course. Instructors will be made up from adjunct faculty, community members, financial aid faculty, and possibly UD’s academic business department. Each instructor must have experience in an area of finance for example; financial aid, taxes, loans or insurance. The reason for this is to bring the real world into the classroom, where what is being taught is being related to what students will experience themselves.

The course would be a General Education requirement of all freshmen students, it will be offered and highly encourage to upper classmen as an elective, however will not be required of them. This course would increase the number of credits students must take during their freshmen year, however the financial awareness gained through this course should outweigh those costs. Any major a student chooses, the will be required to take the personal finance course because it will benefit all students, no matter their career goals, no matter their background, whether that be a first-generation, low income, middle income, etc. It is through a financial literacy course, students will learn and respect that the future decisions they will make when considering courses, loans, and finance charges, this is important for students while they are in school to lean and can decrease their financial burden upon graduation.

In a study performed by Hadzic and Poturak (2014) 68% of the students reported that they would take a personal finance course if it were offered and 39% of millennials will admit to experiencing financial stress when thinking about their future (Fidelity Investments, 2015). A personal finance course will help students of all majors be financially stable and avoid the stress that many individuals unfortunately have after graduation. The increase in student debt, financial burdens, and financial stress are just a few reasons for the University of Dubuque to create a General Education requirement for a personal finance course.


  1. American Psychological Association (2015). Stress in America: Paying with our health. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/news/press/2014/stress-report.pdf.
  2. Bethune, S. (2015). Money stress weighs on Americans’ health. APA Monitor, 46(4), 28-40.
  3. Doehring, C. (2018). In over our heads with financial anxiety from student debt. Pastoral Psychology, 67(2), 115–124. https://doi-org.libweb.uwlax.edu/10.1007/s11089-017-0772-2
  4. Fidelity Investments. (2015, October 11). The Fidelity Investments Millennial Money Study: Facts, Figures and Findings. Retrieved from Fidelity Investments: https://www.fidelity.com/
  5. FINRA Investor Education Fondation. (2013). 2012 Financial Capability in the United States. Washington, DC. Retrieved from FINRA Investor Education Fondation.
  6. Hadzic, M., & Poturak, M. (2014). Students perception about financial literacy: Case study of international Burch University. European Researcher, 77(6–2), 1155–1166. https://doi-org.libweb.uwlax.edu/10.13187/issn.2219-8229
  7. Maryland, U. o. (2015, October 11). About the General Education Program and its Goals. Retrieved from University of Maryland: http://www.gened.umd.edu/
  8. Nasiripour, S. (2015, August 13). Student Loan Delinquencies Jump As Crisis Spreads. Retrieved from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com
  9. National Center for Education Statistics (2017) https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/?q=university+of+Dubuque&s=all&id=153278#finaid
  10. Schwartz, S. US Schools Get Failing Grade for Financial Literacy Education. CNBC. Retrieved from https://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/28/us-schools-get-failing-grade-for-financial-literacy-education.html
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