Financial Education and Account Access Among Elementary Students

fnquizJ. Michael Collins, Elizabeth Odders‐White, & Kasey Wiedrich conducted field studies to test the effect of classroom-based financial education and access to a bank or credit union branch in school, alone and in combination, on students’ financial knowledge, financial behaviors, and attitudes toward financial institutions and saving.

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The recent economic crisis, the increasing variability and complexity of financial products, and the shift toward individuals shouldering more responsibility for financial security has made financial capability an essential skill and intensified pressure on policymakers to design effective ways to combat low levels of financial capability among Americans. Many have looked to school systems, primarily high schools, as a potential setting in which to deliver financial education.

However, because research on the effectiveness of high school financial education courses is not promising, some researchers have concluded that high school is too late and teaching financial education in elementary schools will lead to better outcomes. In addition, previous studies suggest that youth account ownership (alone or in tandem with financial education) may have a positive effect on students’ financial knowledge, attitudes, and behavior. A growing number of schools and financial institutions are partnering to offer savings account programs to students. Further research is needed to understand the potential benefits of both financial education and financial access for elementary school students.

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Some researchers have concluded that high school is too late, and teaching financial education in elementary schools will lead to better outcomes. Further research is needed to understand the potential benefits of both financial education and financial access for elementary school students.

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