Please Include Student Loans in Your Lessons!!!!

Connecting the dots on a weekend and thinking about recent student loan news. Most standard personal finance courses spend way too little time on this issue of student loans and more broadly paying for college. Why? One major reason is the national standards have not emphasized this issue of college finance (see how many times you find “college” and “student loans” in this 52 page document).

So, what are the dots that I am connecting and why the imperative to include in your curriculum? 1) almost 50% of student loan borrowers are struggling; 2) the fastest growing segment of student loan market is over 60; 3) the largest student loan servicer is being sued for“systematically and illegally failing borrowers at every stage of repayment.” Kinda makes you wonder how much #3 contributes to #1 but I digress:

Question: What Percentage of Millennials Write Checks?

This one surprised me. Maybe we should continue to teach check-writing after all!

Answer (from Qualtrics survey): 42%

Question: What Role Should Work Play In Your Lives?

A great question for your students to ponder before diving into your Career unit. The impetus for this question came from a story I heard on the Marketplace podcast:

While listening, ask your students to listen:

Interactive: Grappling With The Ethics of Self-Driving Cars

Skimming this FT article about Apple’s efforts in the autonomous vehicle market, I was intrigued with the introduction of ethics into the conversation:

Apple urges the regulator to continue “thoughtful exploration of the ethical issues” of self-driving cars.

“Because automated vehicles promise such a broad and deep human impact, companies should consider the ethical dimensions of them in comparably broad and deep terms,” Apple writes. These considerations include privacy, how the cars’ software systems make decisions and the impact on employment and public spaces, it says.

As the technology gets closer to adoption, I expect the focus will shift to the ethical implications, especially this idea of how the software systems will make decisions. Which makes this next resource so engaging. Here is a fascinating interactive developed by the MIT Media Lab which forces students to grapple with these ethical issues. The 45 second video above explains the simulation in greater detail (440,000 views after just three months!):


If You Only Had An Hour To Teach Communication Skills….

….use the activities described in this workshop as a foundation.

Your personal finance class provides you with an excellent opportunity to develop your students’ communication skills. You can give your students practice on making persuasive arguments during a debate or perhaps, how to effectively present their recommendations using one of NGPF’s case studies. Many teachers wonder how to provide a foundational lesson in communication that students can utilize as a framework throughout the course. Well, I stumbled upon one this morning that your students will love.

The title of this workshop is “Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques.” I have summarized the 58:19 workshop below and listed the four activities that the speaker, Dan Abraham, demonstrates to build that communication “muscle.” He also provides techniques about how to overcome those anxious feelings that almost everyone feels leading up to their public speaking opportunities.

Notes from the workshop:

What Do You (and Your Students) Need to Know About Behavioral Finance?

download-4If you have some time over the holidays, I recommend this 39 minute FT podcast (The Psychology Behind What We Do With Our Money) and accompanying paper: The Psychology and Neuroscience of Financial Decision Making. Why is this worth your time? It provides an fascinating summary of the latest experiments being run to help us understand why we make the money decisions that we do.

Here were some of the interesting tidbits (numbers refer to footnotes cited in the paper):

NGPF Podcast: Tim Talks To NGPF Fellow Laura Falk About Developing Career Readiness Skills


I had the pleasure of talking to educator Laura Falk recently on the NGPF podcast. Laura participated this summer in the inaugural NGPF Summer Institute and we met up again at the recent Jump$tart National Educator Conference. Laura has this infectious energy and passion for her work at Fairbanks High School in Milford Center, Ohio. In the podcast, Laura shares how she develops career readiness skills in her students through job shadowing, career exploration and a project-based learning method. She provides awesome examples of the power of developing partnerships in the local business community that go far beyond bringing guest speakers into the classroom. You will walk away with great ideas to bolster your career unit. Enjoy!


Chart: What’s the Cost of Having A Low Credit Score?

Answer: Tens of thousands of dollars when looking at long-term loans like mortgages.

Great chart recently released by (hat tip Motley Fool) demonstrates how current interest rates on mortgages vary based on credit scores:


Here’s a quick mini-activity for students to see how much a low credit score could cost them: