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Since 2003, the month of April has been officially recognized by the U.S. Senate as Financial Literacy Month. This month encourages Americans to maintain healthy and beneficial spending and saving habits.

According to a 2017 survey by EVERFI based on about 100,000 incoming college students, many struggled to answer basic financial literacy questions. On average, these incoming students only answered two of six questions correctly. From the same survey, approximately 60% of those going to college expect to take out loans, but only 15% said they had a means of paying them off. This shows the gap in knowledge students have in comparison to the commitments they jump into.

Rockne Starks teaches a personal finance class every semester at the university. Starks had advice for students who are seeking to broaden their knowledge on finance.

His first piece of advice is for students to set goals for themselves. Many students do not set financial goals for their future, not knowing what kind of course to follow. Goals could include what kind of house students would want, what their ideal age to retire is, what kind of car they would like to have and how they plan to off their student loans. Of course, a goal that applies to many students is dealing with their loans.

“A lot of students are just coming up trying to deal with their student loan debt. … And, unfortunately, a lot of students leave with this giant albatross on their back of debt,” Starks said.

Starks recommends that students know “how to work within the confines of what you know about yourself to have a plan and get yourself in a financially comfortable position.” His personal finance class teaches students how to do this.

Starks’ second piece of advice is implementing the goals students have set for themselves. Students should keep their own goals in mind as often as they can. Forecasting financial needs is essential in keeping plans intact, he said.

Starks said the best plan students can have is one they will use. Students should also keep in mind their plan will change as time passes. It is not easy to see what the future will bring, so adjusting a plan is key to staying on top of finances.

Starks also said students should monitor themselves more if they want to save money. Students should be aware of when they are spending $7 on coffee everyday. Expenses like these add up. Once students realize what exactly they are spending their money on, they can adjust accordingly.

Regardless of it being Financial Literacy Month, BGSU works with PNC Bank to offer students financial literacy resources. BGSU offers modules, seminars and workshops on topics such as money management, identity theft and expense tracking. The services are provided at no charge to students, nor do students have to be customers with PNC to take advantage of them. The resources can be found on BGSU’s website.

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