Nine of 10 Students Report Changing Money Management Behavior

USA Funds®’ quarterly surveys of students who received personal finance education through their postsecondary schools show that nine of 10 respondents changed how they manage their personal finances.

Among the 5,940 students who have responded to the surveys, more than 90 percent reported changing at least one financial behavior after completing lessons of USA Funds Life Skills®, an online financial literacy and student success curriculum for college students. Of those students reporting changes in their personal finance behaviors, the respondents reported making an average of 11.5 behavioral changes.

The five behavioral changes most frequently cited by the survey respondents — along with the number of respondents citing each 

  1. I consider if an item is a need or want before purchasing it and spend less on wants (3,916 respondents).
  2. I established educational, financial and/or career goals (3,806 respondents).
  3. I researched and understand the requirements to complete my program of study (3,544 respondents).
  4. I avoid taking on additional debt unless I am sure I can afford the payments (3,364 respondents).
  5. I spend more time on activities that help me achieve my educational, financial and career goals (3,246 respondents).

USA Funds invited all 62,788 students who had completed at least one USA Funds Life Skills course between Jan. 1, 2011, and Dec. 31, 2012, to complete the online survey. Respondents could choose from a list of 25 possible personal finance behavior change statements, including topics related to managing school life and student loans, managing student finances and managing personal life issues.

Student comments

Among the comments respondents provided as part of the survey were the following:

  • USA Funds Life Skills “caused me to become more aware of the relationship between my finances and my education. I realized through the class that they go hand in hand. It is important to stay focused while setting and meeting goals for my education, as well as my finances. As a student, I must remain disciplined in both areas, finances AND education together, in order to have true success.”
  • “USA Funds Life Skills put into perspective just how important it is to know everything about the loans you obtain. As young students, we do not quite realize just how serious and important paying back loans are. We think loans are easy to receive, but the consequences of not paying back loans are severe. I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn all about loans through the USA Life Funds Skills courses, so I can begin to take the proper steps in paying back my loans. With these steps, I will better my future.”
  • “I changed a lot of habits and I wanted to thank you very much for the help.”
  • “USA Funds Life Skills has helped me by providing me with a better understanding of very important information. I am grateful for this system and organization. I thought I knew most of these things, but after completing the USA Funds Life Skills courses, I realized I didn't know everything. Thank You! I will put this information to good use and spread the word on this wonderful program. Please keep up the good work.”
  • “I am grateful about everything I learned from Life Skills! Going back to school, getting loans, and how to manage the loans is a lot to take in all at once, but with Life Skills it has taken away stress. Thank you!”

Assessing financial literacy impact

To assess the impact of USA Funds Life Skills on student behavior, USA Funds will continue conducting similar surveys each quarter, covering students who completed at least one USA Funds Life Skills course during the previous three to six months.

Nearly 175 postsecondary institutions currently use the USA Funds Life Skills curriculum. Since moving the curriculum online in 2009, more than 96,000 students have completed nearly 320,000 USA Funds Life Skills courses.

USA Funds Life Skills also assesses gains in personal finance knowledge and attitudinal changes through post-course assessments and surveys. For USA Funds Life Skills courses completed during this academic year, students have recorded an average of 88 percent in correct answers on the post-course assessments.

Download the full USA Funds Life Skills behavioral survey results.