Innovative Education Programs Needed to Improve Graduate Student Financial Literacy

Majority of graduate students surveyed show low interest in education programs for financial well-being improvement

New York, February 6, 2018 – The lack of participation in financial education seminars by those with low financial literacy scores suggests that innovative programs may be needed to incentivize graduate students to engage in improving their financial acumen, according to a new report by the TIAA Institute.
The report, “Measuring Financial Literacy & Capability: A Case Study of Indiana University Graduate Students,” studied more than 2,400 Indiana University system graduate students, first surveying the students’ perceived financial acumen vs their tested financial literacy. Afterward, a series of voluntary follow-up seminars to improve financial acumen was offered to the students.
The study found that there was low interest in engaging in financial education opportunities. Other key findings included:
  • Students who scored high on the financial literacy exam were more likely to express interest in financial literacy and financial knowledge education seminars.
  • Significant differences in a student’s financial literacy were found based on gender, country of origin, and academic discipline.
  • There was a lack of engagement in improving financial acumen by students with low financial literacy scores, suggesting that innovative programs may be needed to incentivize these students.
“This study further underscores the need to provide students who will be entering the workforce with the proper tools and programs so that they have the necessary skills to plan for their financial future,” said Stephanie Bell-Rose, Head of TIAA Institute. “It’s imperative for the next generation of workers to understand and gain financial literacy, because by doing so, it will lead to a more secure financial well-being and a stronger retirement future.”
To better prepare students, Indiana University and other universities offer programs and activities that focus on supporting graduate students as they enter the work force. “While it’s easy to assume that graduate students would have a better understanding of their financial literacy capabilities, this study shows it’s not always the case,” said Phil Schuman, Indiana University’s Director of Financial Literacy. “Universities across the country must recognize they have a key role in ensuring their students leave school with the proper knowledge to not only succeed in their careers, but to also be financially well throughout their lives. We appreciate this study putting a focus on financial wellness and are committed to preparing our students with the information necessary to be successful.”
The survey of postgraduate student financial capability is part of a larger research protocol designed to understand the factors that may help deepen financial knowledge among graduate students. This study was used two voluntary samples of graduate students who enrolled in the Indiana University system for the 2014-2015 academic year.
To view the report in full, please click here .

About the TIAA Institute

The TIAA Institute helps advance the ways individuals and institutions plan for financial security and organizational effectiveness. The institute conducts in-depth research, provides access to a network of thought leaders, and enables those it serves to anticipate trends, plan future strategies and maximize opportunities for success. For more information about the TIAA Institute, visit .

About TIAA

TIAA ( is a unique financial partner. With an award-winning track record for consistent investment performance, TIAA is the leading provider of financial services in the academic, research, medical, cultural and government fields. TIAA has $1 trillion in assets under management (as of 12/31/2017) and offers a wide range of financial solutions, including investing, banking, advice and education, and retirement services.

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