Dr. Little (Phi Beta Kappa, 1973) worked in the Silicon Valley during the technological revolution of the 1970s and 1980s. She held various positions in accounting, culminating in executive positions including corporate controller, division controller, and director of internal control. Since 1986, she has been with Menlo College in Atherton, California, as associate professor of accounting & finance, where she continues her dedicated service to the students and to the community.
This study evaluated a potential link between personal financial education and intent to persist in college. Despite the disappointing results of prior published research on the impact of financial education on financial knowledge and financial behaviors, this research posited staying in college until completion as one of the most beneficial of financial behaviors for the college-age young person. The study proposed a research model linking personal financial education to increases in objective financial knowledge, subjective financial knowledge, financial self-efficacy, and elaboration of potential outcomes characteristics, all of which may influence satisfaction with the institution, institutional commitment, and ultimately, intent to persist.
The study was done at a small, private college in the western United States. The design was quasi-experimental. An experimental group of 102 freshmen students took a semester long class in personal finance. A control group of 129 freshmen students, in a different semester, did not take the class. Instructors were ranked faculty in accounting and finance who shared a common syllabus. Data were collected on a pre-and-post basis.
The results showed that taking the personal finance class led to a significant, albeit modest, increase in the intent to persist. Taking the class also was linked to increases in subjective financial knowledge, financial self-efficacy and elaboration of potential outcomes. Satisfaction and commitment were also shown to have positive impacts on intent to persist. Although a small, limited study, it provides the basis for future research on the link between personal financial education and college persistence.
Keywords: financial literacy; personal financial education; college persistence.