Why is financial literacy important?

The financial decisions young people make early on are going to affect their financial well-being as adults. Financial literacy is a critical life-skill that students can cultivate beginning in elementary school and continue throughout their middle, high school and post-secondary education.

In West Virginia and across the nation, financial issues contribute to a variety of troubles many people face today, from crushing debt to retirement shortfalls.

Emergencies happen.

More than half of Americans do not have savings reserved for emergencies (FINRA Investor Education Foundation. 2013) and the stress associated with financial issues can have a devastating emotional impact. This epidemic hurts not only individuals, but the community as a whole.

You can't avoid it.

Most high school students are making financial choices now. Many shop, have jobs, pay bills, are eligiblefor tax refunds if they file, have accounts at financial institutions, make car payments, pay car insurance –and most importantly, college-bound students are preparing to make a student debt choice.

Many students rely on loans.

According to the Institute on College Access and Success’ 10th annual report, Student Debt and the Class of 2014, about seven in 10 (69%) college seniors who graduated from public and private nonprofit colleges in 2014 had student loan debt, the same share as in 2013.

These borrowers owed an average of $28,950, up two percent from the 2013 average of $28,400.

Last year’s West Virginia graduates who took out loans left school owing more than $27,000.

About the Financial Literacy Partnership

The Education Alliance is partnering with the College Foundation of West Virginia (managed by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission), the West Virginia State Treasurer’s Office, West Virginia State Auditor’s Office, West Virginia Bankers Association, and the West Virginia Department of Education to develop tools and strategies that strengthen West Virginia students’ financial capability. Together, we formed a Financial Literacy Committee that collaborated to develop this website to serve as a resource for families, students and educators.

The goal of the Financial Literacy website is to grow the students’ appreciation for the financial tools that are available to them and can improve their lives. The website serves as a “clearinghouse” for new and existing resources that promote wise and informed financial choices by learning how to increase savings, improve credit and build assets.

This project is funded in part by a grant from the West Virginia GEAR UP program, using U.S. Department of Education federal GEAR UP funds.