4 Elements of an Effective Financial Education Program

Young Adult at Computer

Recent studies have shown that young people are growing up without adequate financial education, and banks, credit unions, and employers have been stepping in to fill this gap. But as a corporation or financial institution, how can you be sure that the financial education program you choose is an effective one? Fortunately, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has laid out guidelines for what makes an effective financial education program.[1] Here’s what to look for:

  1. Content
    How strong is the content of the program, and what topics does the program cover? Ideally, a financial education program should cover a wide range of topics, including spending, saving, investing, credit, and money management. Also look for programs that speak to different life stages and employ age-appropriate methods and technologies.
  2. Utility
    Is the program easy to use—for both students and administrators? Is it available in other languages? Look for programs that can be accessed by multiple demographics and age groups, and on a range of devices, including computers, phones, and tablets.
  3. Quality
    Explore the quality of the program. How deep is the subject matter? Where are the facts coming from? And is it based on the most recent research in the field?
  4. Efficacy
    Perhaps most importantly, how do you know that the program is effective? A reputable financial education program should be able to demonstrate that students’ knowledge increases after taking the course. Look for programs that not only measure and document student progress, but also can show success after doing so in the past.

There are many financial education programs available in the marketplace, but not all of them are created equal. When you’re evaluating a new program, these four critical elements will ensure that you’re getting your money’s worth.

[1] Report from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau: Youth Financial Education Curriculum Review. (October 2015). Retrieved January 27, 2017, from http://files.consumerfinance.gov/f/201509_cfpb_youth-financialeducation-curriculum-review.pdf