Students deciding to improve their future through education are facing a tough financial decision, due in part to rising tuition cost and a lackluster job market. More and more students need to take out student loans to get a postsecondary education, and as a consequence, are leaving college with enormous debt. This has many wondering if a college education is worth the risk.
While Imagine America Foundation’s (IAF) primary tasks for years was its scholarship and award programs, the Foundation realized it has a great deal more responsibility than awarding scholarship funds. That responsibility involves supporting students throughout their educational experience. The Foundation calls this its 21st Century Student Services Initiative, which is a multi-tiered approach that helps students deal with challenges outside the classroom.
In March 2011, the Foundation created the Financial Planning Made Simple (FPMS) tool to teach students financial literacy and address the concerns regarding student loan debt. In speaking to the Foundation’s more than 800 participating career colleges, the biggest concern among administrators was student borrowing. Colleges were looking for a way to teach financial literacy to students through a simple, easy tool students could understand.
To date, more than 20,000 Imagine America Scholarship and Award applicants have completed the FPMS tool. Since early financial literacy is so important, the Foundation requires all scholarship and award applicants to complete the tool. Results from the Foundation’s first survey shows that viewing this short video about the advantages of developing a personal budget, calculating loan amounts, and going through the repayment options can make an impact on what students borrow for college. Overall, the video tutorial received a 41 percent favorable rating in encouraging students to borrow more conservatively.
Colleges who participate in the Imagine America Scholarship and Award Programs have one more resource to educate their students – Financial Planning Made Simple.
“Nobody is going to stop using credit cards, just like nobody is going to stop taking out student loans,” said Robert L. Martin, President and CEO of the Imagine America Foundation. “Instead we should focus on financial literacy, which can make a difference in a student’s borrowing habits, as our FPMS tool has shown.”
FPMS is an online-based tool to help career college students protect their future by making responsible borrowing decisions. The program consists of an 18-minute animated video tutorial with the student’s choice of two avatars to walk them through the budgeting, borrowing and repayment process. The video gives students the opportunity to calculate their own budgets by using the downloadable FPMS Student Financial Planning Tool. It allows users to visually see exactly where their money is being spent in hopes of helping students to decrease overspending and increase their savings.
For more information about the Imagine America Foundation or the Financial Planning Made Simple tool, contact Robert L. Martin at (202) 336-6758 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Imagine America Foundation
The Imagine America Foundation (IAF), established in 1982, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing scholarships for education, research and training support for the career college sector. Since its inception, the Foundation has provided over $75 million in scholarship and award support for graduating high school seniors, adult learners and U.S. military personnel attending career colleges nationwide through its award-winning Imagine America programs. The Foundation also publishes vital research publications for the higher education sector, honors achievement in career education and offers faculty development training. For more information about the Imagine America Foundation's programs, please visit www.imagine-america.org.