April 03, 2013

New Poll Underscores Need For Financial Education In School

Many High School Seniors Show Signs of Financial Knowledge, but Lack Tools and Know-how to be Financially Responsible

RIVERWOODS, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Apr. 3, 2013-- High school seniors who have taken a personal finance course are more likely to engage in financially responsible behaviors, such as saving, budgeting, and investing, according to a recent study sponsored by Discover Financial Services as part of its Pathway to Financial Success program ( In the face of economic uncertainty after high school and college, students who discuss personal finances at home and at school are more happy, confident, and knowledgeable about life after graduation than those who do not.

The findings highlight the need for financial education curriculum in schools to bolster the conversation around practical money management and to build confidence among students preparing to graduate high school. Pathway to Financial Success, a program dedicated to getting financial education into the classroom, has been providing grants to high schools to help pay for resources and teacher training on financial education. Launched in February 2012, the program has provided more than $2.6 million in financial education grants to nearly 300 public high schools across the country, reaching more than 65,000 students.

Students Rank Personal Finance as Most Important Subject in School

Students who have taken a personal finance class at school are twice as likely to be confident in their abilities to manage finances and more likely to prepare a budget. Of students who have taken a personal finance class, 60 percent have a budget, versus 46 percent of students who have not taken a class. The study also found that 32 percent of those who have taken a class invest versus 17 percent who have not taken a class.

“By getting financial education in schools, we’re helping the next generation gain confidence for life after graduation and giving them the opportunity to achieve brighter financial futures,” said David Nelms, chairman and chief executive officer of Discover.

The 1,200 high school seniors who participated in the national study ranked personal finance as the most important subject they needed to learn in school for their future success – tied with math and ahead of science and technology – but less than one third (29 percent) have taken a personal finance course in school.

Key Findings

The majority of high school seniors are earning their own spending money, planning on contributing or paying entirely for expenses when they graduate, and intending to work while going to college.

  • Only one-third claim to be “very confident” in their ability to manage their personal finances.
  • Female students are less confident about their ability to manage money (28 percent) than male students (40 percent), but females were twice as likely to rank personal finance as most important to their personal success.
  • Only half (52 percent) know the cost of their tuition.
  • Almost half (48 percent) still save through a “piggy bank.”
  • Nearly half (45 percent) do not use a budget.
  • About one-third (33 percent) say they’ve already encountered issues with managing their own finances.


The survey titled, “High School Seniors’ Financial Knowledge and Outlook: A Discover Pathway to Financial Success Survey,” was conducted for Discover in March 2013 by the research firm Penn, Schoen, Berland in collaboration with Burson-Marsteller. The survey was conducted online among 1,200 randomly selected current high school seniors, who plan to graduate in the spring of 2013. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 2.8%. The study was commissioned by Discover to increase the understanding of issues surrounding young people and money management, including understanding students’ financial knowledge, behaviors, and financial outlook of the future as they prepare to graduate.

About Pathway to Financial Success

Pathway to Financial Success is a five-year, $10 million commitment to bring financial education curriculum into public high schools across the country. Schools receiving grants must agree to pre- and post-test students on the curriculum to measure success. Discover began the program in February 2012 and has since given more than $2.6 million to schools across the country. Lesson plans, tips and information for how to talk to teens about money are available on

Full Findings

For full findings, please visit

About Discover

Discover Financial Services (NYSE: DFS) is a direct banking and payment services company with one of the most recognized brands in U.S. financial services. Since its inception in 1986, the company has become one of the largest card issuers in the United States. The company operates the Discover card, America's cash rewards pioneer, and offers home loans, private student loans, personal loans, checking and savings accounts, certificates of deposit and money market accounts through its direct banking business. Its payment businesses consist of Discover Network, with millions of merchant and cash access locations; PULSE, one of the nation's leading ATM/debit networks; and Diners Club International, a global payments network with acceptance in more than 185 countries and territories. For more information, visit

Source: Discover Financial Services

Matthew Towson, 224-405-5649