MADISON, Wis. (11/20/09)--Conducting quick, low-cost financial education seminars to graduating college students could be a potent tool for credit unions to engage with young adults at a pivotal time in their financial lives, according to the Filene Research Institute. Filene recently released a paper, “Delivering Financial Education to Graduating College Students,” about a financial education program, Financial Independence Seminar, developed by Filene researchers Bob Hoel and Ron Smith, which was held in partnership with the University of Wisconsin-Madison, its alumni association and business school faculty. The program was promoted to students nearing graduation. The content was delivered by a credible, unbiased host, and the general seminar and breakout sessions were followed by one-on-one coaching from experienced professionals to provide more information. Participants also were provided with complementary links to financial information sources, Filene said. Hoel and Smith analyzed the seminars, offered in 2007, 2008 and 2009, and reported the following results:
* The vast majority of attendees--79%--at the 2009 seminar took at least one specific action three months after the seminar, for example, establishing a budget or opening an Individual Retirement Account; * Between 95-100% of attendees at the 2007 and 2008 seminars took at least one specific action one to two years after the seminar; and * Feedback from attendees and sponsors indicated the value derived from the seminar was extremely high and they would likely promote the seminar to friends and colleagues.
According to the paper, credit unions should develop programs that are delivered to segmented audiences receptive to the customized information and ready to act on the suggestions; developed and presented by uninterested third parties (no credit union staff); structured as voluntary programs; and measured for effectiveness and changes in participants’ behaviors. The paper also noted students’ top 10 financial topics, as indicated during the seminar:
* Choosing investment options; * Managing income and expenses every month; * Understanding employee benefits; * Saving for retirement; * Paying off student loans; * Selecting savings options; * Buying a home; * Learning how to become wealthy; * Buying a car; and * Managing credit card or other debt.