GFSI has created an alliance with regional business, alumni, educational institutions, and other members of the community in an effort to educate the public on matters of financial literacy.
Research in the past 40 years has shown that Americans lack basic personal financial knowledge. This is primarily due to the absence of a sound personal finance education in our institutions. For example, in a nationwide survey of college students, Chen and Volpe (2002), reported that only 29% of students received education on personal financial issues while in high school. Many high schools, including those in the State of New Jersey, do not require a personal finance course even though these issues are critical in people’s lives. Similarly, most college students graduate without taking a single course in personal finance. It is not surprising that new employees find themselves lost when they are required to make their 401(k) investment for their retirement.
Financial illiteracy has created serious consequences for individuals and the society as a whole. Many people learn this lesson the hard way: paying for the costly mistakes they make and facing financial hardship in their lives, such as low savings and investing for their retirement, personal bankruptcies, and credit problems.
We must help to change the situation by improving peoples’ knowledge, attitudes and behaviors about personal financial planning and management. We need a systematic and comprehensive program to eliminate this epidemic. The Institute at William Paterson University along with its partners in the community propose to establish a Community Financial Literacy Program (CFLP). The CFLP aims to enhance public awareness and understanding of personal financial issues, and promote best practices in personal financial planning and management for individuals and their families.
Through its initiatives, CFLP encourages and supports people of all age groups, professions, and various backgrounds in the community to learn and understand finance issues, which are crucial to individuals’ and their families’ financial future. These issues include but are not limited to savings and borrowing, planning and budgeting, taxes, investment, insurance, retirement and estate planning, and their relations to other issues.