Increasing Student Financial Literacy
with Laura Levine of Jump$tart Coalition
Millennials in the U.S. have accrued more than $1 trillion in debt– more than any other generation in history.
Laura Levine, President and CEO of Jump$tart Coalition, provides insight on how financial education at a young age can benefit students and potentially change their path to financial wellness.
January 04, 2021
Anderson: Millennials are the largest, most highly educated and most ethnically diverse age group in the U.S. However, it's a population that faces a number of financial challenges compared to prior generations. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. It's no secret that young people are drowning in student loan and credit-card debt. The question, though, is why? Here to talk about it is Laura Levine. She is the president and C.E.O. of the Jumpstart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy. She joins me to talk about efforts to improve that situation when it comes to students from kindergarten through college. And Laura, thank you so much for joining us.
Levine: Tetiana, thank you so much for having me.
Anderson: So let's start with the scope of this problem. How widespread is this? What are we talking about?
Levine: Well, you know, today we're seeing how so many people, and especially young adults, many millennials, are struggling with their finances after having lost income suddenly as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. And so we know that this is touching a lot of people in every walk of life.
Anderson: This is something that your organization has really been looking at since you got started in about 1995. So walk us through what was going on then up to now. What are sort of the major milestones in financial issues that you've been seeing?
Levine: Sure. So Jumpstart was founded in 1995 -- We just had our 25th anniversary -- in response to the credit-card crisis of the mid '90s, where credit became looser and easier to get and so many young people were engaging in credit-card activity without really knowing how it worked. And so Jumpstart was founded to give young people a jumpstart, if you will, on their lives as adult consumers by educating them while they were still students. And then since then, of course, we have seen the mortgage crisis of about 12 years ago when the recession and then currently what we're experiencing with the pandemic.
Anderson: So how are you guys doing it? I mean, what do you do when you're conducting financial support and education for these young people? How does it work?
Levine: Yeah, so Jumpstart isn't actually a financial educator itself. We're the coalition of many organizations that either conduct or support financial education across the country and largely with our nation's youth. And so what a lot of our partners are doing are working together to get more financial education and better financial education into our nation's schools so that the next generation of young adults will be better prepared for their lives by having received financial education in school.
Anderson: So you guys are basically giving people the tools. But the other end of this is that we all have to take personal responsibility when it comes to sticking to a budget, paying more than the minimum on our credit-card debt and also saving out of our -- our first check. How important are these fundamentals for people to really grasp and implement in order to achieve financial health and wealth?
Levine: Tetiana, so important. And you really said the magic word, and that was fundamentals. The one thing that we've seen over time is that products and services change, and especially with technology, there's a lot of rapid change in that. But the fundamentals stay basically the same. And so we feel that if students can learn those fundamentals, it will carry them well through their adulthood.
Anderson: You have looked at the impact over time of what you guys are working towards. What have you seen? What's the result so far?
Levine: So we're really pleased to see that more states are starting to require financial education across the country. And we think this is going to better prepare young people for the future. But we still have a long ways to go and we'd like to see financial education both grow and improve.
Anderson: So you've given some pretty good fundamentals, and I'm confident that people are going to want to know more. So if they do want to know more about what you do, what's your website? Where should they go?
Levine: Oh, thank you. Yes, of course. Our website is at jumpstart.org. And then our public engagement campaign is at checkyourschool.org. And that's where we're trying to get folks to help us get financial education into their own kids' schools.
Anderson: Laura Levine, thank you so much for joining us.
Levine: Thank you for having me.
Anderson: And thanks to our viewers as well for watching. As always, for more great conversations in your own community and across the country, be sure to log on to comcastnewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.