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Why College Students Desperately Need a Course on Financial Management

Bernice Napach
Daily Ticker
Why College Students Desperately Need a Course on Financial Management

Nearly two million students are graduating from college this spring, according to the National Center of Education Statistics (NCES), and many of them thousands of dollars in debt.

A recent Fidelity survey of 750 graduates found the average debt for the class of 2013 is $35,000. That’s a sizable sum considering that they’re graduating in an economy with a relatively sluggish job market.

They join the more than 38 million Americans who owe a total $1.1 trillion in student loan debt. Eleven percent of student loans were seriously delinquent—overdue at least 90 days—in the third quarter of 2012, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

A recent Wells Fargo survey found that more than half of millennials (64%) say they financed school through student loans—compared with just 29% for baby boomers—and paying off that debt is their top concern.

Among the reasons for those concerns: student loan debt generally can’t be forgiven in bankruptcy.

“The difficulty with student loans is that there is no collateral," says Robert Archibald, economics professor at William & Mary and co-author of the book, Why Does College Cost So Much? "You can’t repossess the person…and that has something to do with why they’re not dischargeable in bankruptcy." Professor Archibald was one of several guests on The Daily Ticker’s Generation I.O.U. special show.

Related: America's Student Loan Crisis: Generation I.O.U.

Those same millennials surveyed by Wells Fargo overwhelmingly felt that high schools and colleges should teach financial literacy including courses like basic investing, how to save for retirement and how loans work.

“We need to do a better job when our students come in [to college], educating them about their own financial management,” City College of New York (CCNY) President Lisa Coico says. “They don’t get that in high school."

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