Financial Literacy of College Students: Parental and Peer Influences


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Virginia Tech


A current national concern is the low financial literacy of college students. College students are not receiving the financial knowledge necessary to be successful in today's fast paced economy. Due to an increasingly complex marketplace, college students need greater knowledge about their personal finances and the economy. The financial decisions made early in life create habits difficult to break and affect students' ability to become financially secure adults. Most recent studies show average personal financial scores declining with average scores close to a failing grade.

The College Student Financial Literacy Survey (CSFLS) was created to collect data specifically for this study. The purpose of this descriptive, cross-sectional, on-line survey design study is three fold. First, I investigated the personal financial literacy (knowledge, attitudes and behavior) of a sample of undergraduate and graduate college students using the personal characteristics of gender, class rank, and socioeconomic status (SES). Second, I examined parental and peer influences on the level of financial literacy of college students. Finally, I examined how college students' financial knowledge and attitudes correlated with their financial behavior.

The study found that financial knowledge, attitude, and behavior scores were low but that they significantly increased each year from freshman to masters. Further, students who were financially influenced by their parents had higher financial knowledge, attitude, and behavior scores. Finally, students with higher financial knowledge also had higher financial attitude and behavior scores.



financial literacy, college students, financial influences, family resource management theory, social learning theory, financial knowledge