Friday, March 16, 2012

Department of Education Focuses on Finance: 2 New Tools to Help Students, Families and Schools

The National Financial Capability Challenge

This week, the Department of Education (ED) and the Department of the Treasury launched the annual National Financial Capability Challenge – a program aimed at strengthening students’ understanding of finances. The Challenge recognizes that teaching students about important financial concepts – saving, budgeting and asset building - can help children and families improve their economic well-being According to the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), children with college savings accounts are nearly twice as likely to be in college and are seven times more likely to attend and complete college compared to their peers who do not have a savings account. By using examples that range from saving for college to managing cell phone expenses, the Challenge will help students strengthen their understanding of savings, budgeting and investing and provide them with the basic concepts that are needed to make sound financial decisions in the future.

More than 84,000 students and 2500 educators in all 50 states participated in 2011. Teachers and educators working with high school students age 13-19 can register for the Challenge and offer students the opportunity to participate both in school and during after-school programming. The Challenge will be available through April 13th. An Educator toolkit and a voluntary online exam for students can be accessed here.

FAFSA Submission and Completion Data

The National Financial Capability Challenge was announced just as ED launched another critical financial tool – FAFSA submission and completion data. Each year, many students and families looking forward to college complete the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). With the cost of college steadily increasing, students and families looking to receive aid in the form of federal grants and/or loans must complete the FAFSA. With finances playing a major role in college decisions, it is not surprising that there is a strong correlation between FAFSA completion and college enrollment. As a result, ED’s new FAFSA submission data is intended to provide high schools counselors with data about the number of students in their school that have completed and submitted the FAFSA. The submission data – which can be broken down by state and individual high schools – will be updated every two weeks and will help counselors set targets for school-wide FAFSA completion rates.

For more information about the new FAFSA data tool, please click here.

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