“When it comes to the true cost of a college education, the devil is in the details,” writes Champlain College Center for Financial Literacy Director John Pelletier. In an article for Inside Higher Ed, the expert and advocate for financial literacy sees opportunity for early intervention strategies in high school curricula.

Pelletier writes:

John Pelletier
John Pelletier, Director of the Center for Financial Literacy, Champlain College. Ryan Bent ’08 // Ryan Bent Photography

The Biden administration has discharged student loan debts for some college graduates—so far fewer than one million individuals. This is a good start, but, as The Hill reports, “45 million borrowers collectively owe $1.7 trillion in student loans, and data shows the average borrower holds more than $36,000 in debt.” Under our laws, student loan debt is virtually impossible to discharge in bankruptcy.

How can we assure that future college students avoid a financial mistake that takes too many nearly a lifetime to dig out of?

The solution: Instituting required personal finance instruction in high schools to help students know what a college education costs before they go. He adds:

I am proud to be affiliated with Champlain College, where all undergraduates are required to participate in personal finance instruction before graduating. It is the right thing to do.

In sum, the obligations around college loans shouldn’t just be shouldered by students alone. A combination of mandatory, substantive personal finance education in every high school and college is necessary. 

Read Pelletier’s article featured in Inside Higher Ed here.

At Champlain College, quality personal finance education is an essential and mandatory part of each student’s curriculum, incorporated through the college’s unique InSight program—a four-year career and financial education that’s overseen by Champlain’s Career Collaborative. InSight teaches students the skills and strategies to position themselves in their careers and manage their personal finances and wellness. Among them, the Game of Life event for first-year students that challenges them to a budgeting simulation, much like the board game, with an assigned salary based on their majors. Read more about the annual Game of Life event.

A low-pressure experience, the Game of Life offers students insight into what their financial futures could look like after graduation, including how student loan payments factor in to daily decision making.

“Many of these students realize that they actually can’t afford the things they chose, and they might have to go back and get a roommate or decide to take public transportation instead of buying a car,” said John Pelletier, Director of Champlain’s Center for Financial Literacy, whose office contributes to the Game of Life.

At the end of the Game of Life, students meet with financial counselors to discuss their decisions and learn about cost of living, employee benefits, income taxes, student loan installments, and retirement plans.

Kaitie Catania

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