Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy – Why is it so Important?

The President's Advisory Council on Financial Literacy defines personal financial literacy as "the ability to use knowledge and skills to manage financial resources effectively for a lifetime of financial well-being" (2008 Annual Report to the President).

The same is true for financial literacy as it pertains to postsecondary expenses and financial aid. There are numerous ways to pay for college. Students and their parents need financial literacy to make prudent decisions about financing higher education, and to better understand how taking on debt or accepting other forms of student aid may affect them in the future.

The following websites offer free tools, calculators, Q&A, and other forms of guidance that can help students and their parents become more financially literate about financial aid and college tuition expenses; and learn how to make the most of their higher education investment.


Financial Literacy Resources

Big Future ‘Pay for College’ –  This website from College Board offers calculators, search tools and a Q&A page help students and their parents learn how they can pay for college. The Financial Aid Can Help You Afford College page defines commonly used financial aid terms, while explaining what financial aid is, where it comes from, and how to apply.

Cash Course – Your Real-Life Money Guide - Cash Course offers a customizable set of tools that help students build “real-life-ready” financial skills. Tools also are available for school administrators and individuals who are not affiliated with a college or university.


College Affordability Guide - The College Affordability Guide wants students to earn a college degree at an affordable price. The guide explains some of the lesser-known ways to reduce the cost of a college degree, such as utilizing prior-learning assessments, open online courses that offer college credit, and more.


Financial Literacy for College StudentsThis research guide from Penn State University Libraries includes a wealth of resources related to financial literacy for college students, including links to books, articles, websites, and other resources that address personal finance and student loan debt issues.


360 Degrees of Financial Literacy – This website from the American Institute of CPAs provides multiple tools, calculators and Q&A to help college students better manage their finances.

NCAN Member-Exclusive Resources

Financial Literacy Training  - The Scholarship Foundation worked with a PhD student from Washington University in St. Louis, to develop a financial literacy study. The attached PDF is a presentation we provide for our interest-free loan recipients at new student orientation.

NCAN Advisor Training Module  - Chapter 7 of the module contains information about financial aid, including a list of commonly used acronyms and abbreviations (pages 71-73).