Financial Literacy

Welcome to Financial Literacy at Benedictine University! Benedictine University began their involvement in Financial Literacy in 2008, with the creation of a Financial Literacy course for undergraduates. To date, over 200 students have completed the course. Students create their own budget and statement of net worth, track their spending using Wealth Watchers' journals, learn from financial literacy experts and an interactive online Financial Literacy website and share their experiences in online discussions.

Besides educating our students in money management, the intent of the course includes outreach to our surrounding community in the area of financial literacy. By partnering with the local chapter of Junior Achievement, enrolled students are required to pass on their new-found knowledge to elementary and junior high students in the surrounding area. The university has also joined forces with the DuPage County Money Smart Week committee to host and put on financial education events on campus every April during Money Smart Week.

Details as to our partnership with Junior Achievement and Money Smart Week are found under the Financial Literacy Community Service tab.

Due to the uniqueness of the components of our financial literacy course, we have been assessing its success. The results are included in the Financial Literacy Course Assessment tab.

For those who would like to know more about financial literacy, links to the resources used in our course are found under the Financial Literacy Resources tab.

Contact Information:

Vicki J. Jobst, DBA, CPA

Benedictine University

5700 College Road

Scholl Hall, Room 165

Lisle, IL 60532

 

E-mail

vjobst@ben.edu

Phone
630-829-6455

Benedictine University College of Business offers FINA 120-Financial Literacy during the Fall and Spring semesters. Enrollment is open to allundergraduate students regardless of their major. The course begins at mid-term and lasts for eight weeks. Students earn 2 credit hours for successful completion.  There are no prerequisites. FINA 120 meets in the evenings from 6:30-9 pm. 

This course provides students of all majors, concentrations and levels of study strategies to achieve good spending and savings habits, along with an opportunity to share their knowledge with others in the outside community.  Students will create a personal budget and statement of net worth, keep track of their spending and learn how to better manage credit card debt and learn how to use benefit and savings plans to help achieve future financial goals.  This course has a service learning component.

The first five weeks of the course is a combination of onsite presentations by financial literacy experts and online learning and discussions. Students prepare personal budgets and statements of net worth, learn how to manage credit and debit card spending and use a journal to track their spending and progress towards their savings goals. They make presentations to the class and to Money Smart Week audiences about what they have learned in each area and travel in teams to nearby elementary and middle schools teach students about money management as part of the Junior Achievement program.

Over 200 Benedictine University students have performed service for the West Suburban area of Junior Achievement of Chicago. 


MSW Chicago logo

Our students and university community also hosts and conducts events as part of DuPage County’s efforts for Money Smart Week.  Money Smart Week is sponsored by the Chicago branch of the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank and occurs annually in April.  During Money Smart Week, financial institutions, nonprofit organizations, schools, libraries and others unite to support financial education.  In 2010, over 450 free events including classes, seminars and activities took place around the state of Illinois.

Events conducted at Benedictine University have included:

·         Presentation by Jean Chatzky, award-winning journalist and best-selling author, financial editor for NBC’s Today Show

·         Screening and discussion of the documentaries “Maxed Out” and “I.O.U.S.A.”

·         Presentations by students in Benedictine University’s Financial Literacy course about budgeting, tracking spending, wise use of debit and credit cards

·         Presentation by Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois State Treasurer

·         Benedictine University Financial Literacy Essay Contest

·         Presentation by Carrie Kirby, the “Frugalista” Internet and Chicago Tribune columnist


FINA 120-Financial Literacy was assessed by Benedictine University as to the effect that the course has had on the enrolled students' spending and savings habits. Surveys were completed by students at the beginning and the ending of the course to discover if there was any change in behavior as a result of the course. Results were compared to the results from surveying students in BenU's psychology and political science courses (students who did not take the course) about their financial behavior. Students that completed the course in prior semesters were also surveyed to discover if the course had any lasting effects on their money management behaviors.

Here are some of the findings:

The results of the present research suggest that the financial literacy course improved course participants' money management habits. Student ratings and comments were strong indicators of this phenomenon. A less strong indicator was the effect of the course on student behavior. The ability of students to change their pattern of overdrafts and payment of credit card bills was constrained by the timing of the course and other outside factors that may have affected their financial behavior. Students rated the most significant improvements in their ability to avoid overdrafts, prioritize spending, paying off credit cards and sharing financial literacy information. They cited other benefits of the course including the practice of tracking their spending and cash balances, eliminating the purchase of unnecessary items, and shopping for bargains.Course participants began a savings program in order to build up funds for retirement and emergencies and began to use cash instead of credit cards to make their purchases. They developed financial goals and began to follow a budget.

  • The most effective course components cited by the participants in their written comments were those that required 'learning by doing' and the sharing of experiences:posting spending to Wealth Watchers journals, teaching Junior Achievement lessons and online discussions with course members.
  • The expected outcome of a financial literacy course is best expressed by a quote from one of the participants in the course:

Although there were times when I was overwhelmed and saddened by my current financial state, I can now say that I have a better understanding and appreciation for money management. My hope is that I will no longer treat my finances like the 800-pound gorilla in the room and actually have the courage to deal with it.

Jobst, V. (2010, March). The 800 pound gorilla in the room: Changing college students'spending and savings habits. Paper presented at the meeting of the North America Accounting Society conference, Chicago, IL.

Online Resources used in FINA 120-Financial Literacy include:

College Student information:

Federal Government Budget Deficit on National Debt:

Government Efforts for Financial Literacy:

College of Business
benedictine university

Sandra L. Gill, Ph.D., Dean
Dawn Smith, Assistant to the Dean
Phone: (630) 829-6206
Fax: (630) 829-6226
E-mail: dssmith@ben.edu

Scholl Hall, Room 109
5700 College Road
Lisle, IL 60532
8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.