New Poll Underscores Need for Financial Education in School

Wed Apr 3, 2013 7:00am EDT

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Many High School Seniors Show Signs of Financial Knowledge, but Lack Tools and
Know-how to be Financially Responsible
RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(Business Wire)--
High school seniors who have taken a personal finance course are more likely to
engage in financially responsible behaviors, such as saving, budgeting, and
investing, according to a recent study sponsored by Discover Financial Services
as part of its Pathway to Financial Success program
( In the face of economic uncertainty after
high school and college, students who discuss personal finances at home and at
school are more happy, confident, and knowledgeable about life after graduation
than those who do not. 

The findings highlight the need for financial education curriculum in schools to
bolster the conversation around practical money management and to build
confidence among students preparing to graduate high school. Pathway to
Financial Success, a program dedicated to getting financial education into the
classroom, has been providing grants to high schools to help pay for resources
and teacher training on financial education. Launched in February 2012, the
program has provided more than $2.6 million in financial education grants to
nearly 300 public high schools across the country, reaching more than 65,000

Students Rank Personal Finance as Most Important Subject in School

Students who have taken a personal finance class at school are twice as likely
to be confident in their abilities to manage finances and more likely to prepare
a budget. Of students who have taken a personal finance class, 60 percent have a
budget, versus 46 percent of students who have not taken a class. The study also
found that 32 percent of those who have taken a class invest versus 17 percent
who have not taken a class. 

"By getting financial education in schools, we`re helping the next generation
gain confidence for life after graduation and giving them the opportunity to
achieve brighter financial futures," said David Nelms, chairman and chief
executive officer of Discover. 

The 1,200 high school seniors who participated in the national study ranked
personal finance as the most important subject they needed to learn in school
for their future success - tied with math and ahead of science and technology -
but less than one third (29 percent) have taken a personal finance course in

Key Findings

The majority of high school seniors are earning their own spending money,
planning on contributing or paying entirely for expenses when they graduate, and
intending to work while going to college.

* Only one-third claim to be "very confident" in their ability to manage their
personal finances. 
* Female students are less confident about their ability to manage money (28
percent) than male students (40 percent), but females were twice as likely to
rank personal finance as most important to their personal success. 
* Only half (52 percent) know the cost of their tuition. 
* Almost half (48 percent) still save through a "piggy bank." 
* Nearly half (45 percent) do not use a budget. 
* About one-third (33 percent) say they`ve already encountered issues with
managing their own finances.


The survey titled, "High School Seniors` Financial Knowledge and Outlook: A
Discover Pathway to Financial Success Survey," was conducted for Discover in
March 2013 by the research firm Penn, Schoen, Berland in collaboration with
Burson-Marsteller. The survey was conducted online among 1,200 randomly selected
current high school seniors, who plan to graduate in the spring of 2013. The
margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.8%. The study was commissioned by
Discover to increase the understanding of issues surrounding young people and
money management, including understanding students` financial knowledge,
behaviors, and financial outlook of the future as they prepare to graduate. 

About Pathway to Financial Success

Pathway to Financial Success is a five-year, $10 million commitment to bring
financial education curriculum into public high schools across the country.
Schools receiving grants must agree to pre- and post-test students on the
curriculum to measure success. Discover began the program in February 2012 and
has since given more than $2.6 million to schools across the country. Lesson
plans, tips and information for how to talk to teens about money are available

Full Findings

For full findings, please visit 

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services
company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since
its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in
the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash
rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans,
checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts
through its direct banking business. Its payment businesses consist of Discover
Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the
nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global
payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For
more information, visit

Matthew Towson, 224-405-5649

Copyright Business Wire 2013

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