CAMBRIDGE, Mass. (3/10/14)--For the third consecutive year, Harvard University Employees CU, Cambridge, Mass., offered Harvard undergraduates a financial literacy class designed to provide them with an understanding of personal financial management.
The optional class, called "Personal Financial Management," ran three days with a four-hour session each day. Students received a carefully targeted curriculum of consumer credit, credit scoring, personal budgeting, financial goal setting, planning, insurance, taxes, the financial marketplace and investing.
"Historically, it has primarily been the responsibility of parents to teach their children the basics of personal financial management," said Gene Foley, president/CEO of the $442 million-asset credit union. "The problem with that is the financial products now offered in the 21st century are not the same as the ones that parents grew up with."
The goal of the "survey course" curriculum was to present the knowledge most critical for undergraduates to understand and apply now in their personal financial life.
Less than 20% of college students receive any kind of formal personal financial education--a knowledge gap that leaves serious potential for financial missteps in college and beyond, according to Tom Murphy, the credit union's director of student services,
"Though most students have been using and managing money since before they were in kindergarten, a significant portion of their financial education has been self-taught," Murphy said. "We live in an increasingly complex financial world, and the better we prepare them now for that reality, the more successful they'll be when they come face-to-face with it."
The first day of the program provided students with the foundation to develop a solid financial plan. Using case studies, students reviewed the fundamentals for proper financial planning and use of credit.
The second day included a panel on investing with recent graduates from Harvard Business School (HBS), the College and Harvard Law School. The final day of the program covered wealth management, insurance and taxes.