New Program Aims to Increase Financial Literacy on Campus

New financial literacy and well-being program at Loyola is working to help students become financially literate.

Financial Literacy and Well-Being, a new finance program at Loyola, is working to help students from a variety of spaces within the university to become financially literate.

The program contains six modules including Earning, Spending, Saving, Borrowing, Investing and Protecting when it comes to finances.

Financial Literacy and Well-Being was developed following a study done by members of the Quinlan School of Business which showed low financial literacy rates among students, according to Abol Jalilvand, finance professor, chair of the finance department and former dean of the Quinlan School of Business. 

Jalilvand said he worked to investigate the issues being faced with financial literacy and the best ways to combat while adjunct instructor Joseph Wemhoff worked to develop the curriculum and deliver the program to students.

Wemhoff was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

The program was first offered exclusively to Arrupe College students in 2023 but will be offered to Achieving College Excellence students March 19, according to Jalilvand. He said there are plans to offer the program to all Quinlan students beginning in fall 2024 with hopes to extend it to all Loyola students further in the future. 

Achieving College Excellence program participants are first-generation college students, those with high financial needs or those with a documented disability, according to the university website

The program is first available to Achieving College Excellence students because Jalilvand said first-generation college students usually have a drive to learn more about financial literacy. 

“They’re coming from a difficult economic environment, they have a much better perspective about the impact of making mistakes financially on their lives,” Jalilvand said. “In that respect, we are much more prepared to to address those things early on as opposed to waiting”

Jalilvand said there seems to be a problem with financial literacy levels among college students as well as the general population, citing a study done on global financial literacy reported by The Economist

In developed countries, financial literacy is high among middle-aged adults but low in younger and older generations due to less education and cognitive impairment, according to the study. 

Lauren Viteri, a second-year health administration major, said she wouldn’t consider herself to be a financially literate person but she hopes to find ways to improve in the future. Viteri said she thinks financial literacy is important for college students and she would be interested in taking a financial literacy course if there was one offered at Loyola.

Jalilvand said he believes teaching financial literacy to youth will make a lasting difference on the decisions they choose to make surrounding their finances in the future. 

“It is important in the sense of managing the economic situation that you’re in,” Jalilvand said. “Making the right decisions with respect to borrowing, or investing with respect to saving for retirement. It is startling that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not really have an adequate retirement.”

Nickolas Becker, a first-year finance major, said he is comfortable with his understanding of finances.

“I definitely am more financially literate because I’m majoring in finance of course, but I’ve been interested in markets and things like that for a while so I do a lot of stuff on my own,” Becker said.

Becker said he thinks financial literacy in college students is often overlooked but it’s still very important for students to be aware of their options when it comes to money in the real world. 

Becker said he is a member of the Rambler Investment Fund, a group of students focused on finance, economics, investments and accounting who work together to prepare for interviews, fine tune resumes and attend networking events. 

Part of the reason there is such a high level of income inequality in the U.S. is because financial literacy isn’t taught to the people who might really need it, according to Jalilvand. 

Jalilvand said social media has some ways of being helpful with increasing financial literacy since there are a lot of informational videos on longer-form platforms like YouTube which might be helpful to someone looking for answers. However, he said short-length video platforms such as TikTok and Instagram are less trustworthy for information on finances because they have to leave out too many details to fit the time frame. 

Cordelia de la Fuente, a first-year neuroscience major, said she wished finances were something more commonly talked about in university classes and at home. 

“I think it’s kind of taboo in a sense,” De la Fuente said. “No one actually talks about it and we know it’s there and we know when we get out of college it’s going to be something that’s super real in all of our lives, and I would love to have more experience with it now.”

De la Fuente said she would be very interested in taking a financial literacy elective such as the program developed by Jalilvand and Wemhoff if it were offered to all Loyola students.

Jalilvand said being financially literate can lead to a variety of other opportunities in life and make a difference on a social scale. 

“One very effective way, which is accepted by the United Nations International Monetary Fund, is that if we can educate people with respect to financial literacy issues the income gap is going to be narrowed down,” Jalilvand said. “If the income gap is narrowed down, I think that you will see many of the social issues that we are experiencing, they’re going to be dealt with.”

Jalilvand said he hopes in the future, Loyola will be able to focus on offering financial literacy courses for students and use it as a way to differentiate themselves from other universities. He said it is especially valuable for university students since so many of them are or will be facing debt post-graduation. The university has been supportive of Jalilvand and Wemhoff’s efforts to provide this program to students, according to Jalilvand. 

Featured Image by Lilli Malone / The Phoenix

Lilli Malone

Lilli Malone