US Bank Spearheading Personal Finance Education Efforts

From reading, writing, and arithmetic to political science, microbiology, and theoretical physics -- no matter how hard or for how long they study, it remains commonplace for America's young people to enter the real world without a basic understanding of personal finance. According to the results of the 2017 Student Financial Literacy Study conducted by US Bank (, students expressed more concerns about personal finance upon graduation than they did when they first entered college. From its US Bank online service to the mentorship programs offered at its US Bank locations, US Bank and other financial institutions are leading the charge in the effort to educate America's youth when it comes to personal finance.

Students Remain Susceptible to Economic Myths

According to the survey, most American young people demonstrate some degree of financial illiteracy. A majority (55%) of those surveyed believed that their credit score was determined or influenced by the amount of money in their bank accounts. Disparities exist across cultural and gender divides, with 84% of white students claiming to know what a credit score is, compared with only 77% of African-American students, 75% of Hispanic students, and 68% of Asian-American students. Women are more likely than men to understand the significance of a credit score.

Although most students say that they are likely to turn to their parents for financial advice, the trend is for young people to seek out personal finance information online. For that reason, it is becoming vital for financial institutions to fill in the information gap that has been left behind by educational institutions that do not teach personal finance.

Why Does Financial Literacy Matter?

Financial literacy is necessary in order to make responsible financial decisions. We can think of financial literacy as a basic familiarity with the rules of the game. If an athlete doesn't know the rules of his or her sport, it is unlikely that he or she will become a successful athlete. In the same way, a student with only a flimsy grasp of the terminology, techniques, and technology behind modern personal finance is likely to struggle as they transition from the college campus to the real world.

For many students, their first exposure to financial matters comes in the form of student loans. The average Class of 2016 graduate left college with $37,172 in student loan debt. Because our graduates are taking on a financial burden right out of the gate, it is vital for them to understand financial liability and its consequences.

Though I graduated from college in 2005, financial literacy came to me relatively late in life. In fact, I needed to actually work at a bank before the pieces of the financial puzzle began to fall into place. As a customer service representative at US Bank (, I assisted customers with their US Bank online accounts, and put them in touch with representatives at US Bank locations from coast to coast. By undergoing two months of training and by assisting clients with financial problems of their own, I began to see how my sense of fiscal responsibility (or lack thereof) was affecting my own life.

Especially if you grow up in an economically stable situation, it can be easy to overlook the very real dangers that come with reckless expenditure and credit card debt. Many college graduates are managing their own finances for the very first time, and because they already owe thousands of dollars to student loan corporations, they often have to learn financial skills on the fly.

Honoring Our Financially Savvy Youth

In order to draw attention to the importance of financial education, US Bank ( has created the US Bank Financial Genius 2017 Scholarship. Students can apply for the scholarship by completing financial education tutorials via the US Bank online service. Participating students are entered in a sweepstakes to win scholarships of $20,000, $10,000, or $5,000. Needless to say, these scholarship funds will be tremendously helpful for at least three college students, but the awareness being drawn to this vital social issue is the real service that US Bank is providing.

US Bank understands that when our young people succeed financially, society as a whole stands to benefit. By reaching out to America's youth, US Bank is seeking to create a culture of fiscal responsibility that will lead to a generation of financially mature adults. Fiscally responsible parents tend to raise fiscally responsible children. In this sense, US Bank is investing in our future. From its US Bank online service (accessible via, to the helpful financial professionals at each of its US Bank locations, US Bank is making a concerted effort to use its might and its reach as a financial institution to create a more financially prudent population.