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The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) believes financial education is a powerful force for positive change—a principle that has driven our work for more than 30 years. We are nonprofit, noncommercial and independent, and are committed to leading and encouraging best practices and knowledge sharing in research, education and evaluation to collectively impact financial well-being.

We place great emphasis on empowering and supporting change agents who seek to help Americans live a financially-secure life. As one of the first organizations to embark on the mission of wholly dedicating its efforts on improving the effectiveness of financial education, NEFE continues its legacy of strengthening action-oriented research agendas, mobilizing intermediaries, and creating better solutions for researchers, educators, practitioners and policymakers.


Recent NEFE-funded research presents a compelling case that state-mandated financial education positively impacts students’ college borrowing behaviors.

For most college-bound high school students, financing post-secondary education is their first large financial decision. However, many students don’t have the necessary knowledge to appropriately address their options. Perhaps surprisingly, less than one-third know how to compare loans, over half do not calculate future payments, and over half wish they could change their college financing decisions.

According to recent NEFE-funded research out of Montana State University, students make better decisions about how to pay for college in states with a state-mandated personal finance graduation requirement.

Key Findings

State-mandated financial education graduation requirements:

  • Increase the likelihood that students will apply for financial aid
  • Increase acceptance of both grants and subsidized federal loans
  • Decrease private loan amounts for borrowers
  • Decrease the likelihood of carrying a credit card balance

On average, exposure to financial education:

  • Increases applications for aid by 3.5 percent
  • Increases the likelihood of having a grant by 1.4 percent
  • Decreases the likelihood of carrying a credit card balance by 21 percent
  • Reduces private loan balances by roughly $1,300 for borrowers

Students with a lower family expected financial contribution (EFC):

  • Increase their acceptance of subsidized Stafford loans at a rate three times larger than more affluent students
  • Exhibit a decrease in holding a credit card balance
  • Exhibit a decrease in working while enrolled

Students with a higher family EFC:

  • Decrease private loan borrowing by roughly $2,400 (among those who borrow loans)
  • Are no more or less likely to hold a credit card balance or work while enrolled

For more on this study, click here.

For more than 30 years, the NEFE High School Financial Planning Program (HSFPP) has helped teachers provide this important life skill to their students. Read results from the most recent evaluation of our program here.



Research continues to validate #FinEd…a recent @NEFE_ORG study shows state-mandated financial education leads to better borrowing for college #RedefiningFinEd #NEFE


National Endowment for Financial Education
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