Fifty-four percent of young adults who went to college last year took on some debt, including student loans, for their education, according to the Federal Reserve.

College-aged people, however, may not have a well of financial knowledge or experience to tap when faced with making decisions that will affect their lives and checkbooks for years to come.

The Finance Club and the Department of Business and Economics at California University of Pennsylvania are looking to give students a foundation for that knowledge.

Cal U. hosted a financial wellness seminar last week featuring experts from various federal agencies to offer students information on the topics of student debt, student loans, identity theft and budgeting.

“Many people in our nation, especially youth, are facing financial challenges due to the lack of financial education and sound self-discipline,” said Dr. Nan Li, associate professor of finance at Cal U.

Li, who is teaching a person finance course this semester, said she wanted to better serve her students by providing resources for them to use. Li reached out to the Financial Education Exchange Program of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, an agency of the U.S. government responsible for consumer protection in the financial sector, which holds educational outreach events.

Speakers from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Federal Trade Commission and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. gave presentations to students on money management, identity theft and the FDIC’s Money Smart Financial Education Program.

“(Students) can put their trust in them,” Li said of the presenters. “As practitioners, they know about the real important issues, and they have the working experience they can share, so that’s very, very helpful.

“When they say something that echoes what I’m teaching, the students know this is true and authentic.”

Li said she provided the presenters with questions from students so they could customize their presentations to the students’ queries.

Geared toward first-year seminar students, the event was attended by dozens of students throughout the morning and watched by more via livestreaming.

Also attending the seminar was a group of students from Carmichaels Area High School, where a finance lab was recently installed in the library.

Librarian Cassie Menhart, who will teach a high school course on personal finance next semester, said the visit to Cal U. for the 11 Carmichaels students was positive to experience a college atmosphere.

“I think the students realize they have a lot to learn,” said Menhart. “But I think I found a lot of resources I’ll be able to add to my curriculum.”

The course, for which Menhart is currently building the curriculum, will cover behavioral finance, taxes, checking and saving accounts, paying for college, types of credit, managing credit, investing, insurance and budgeting.

Last summer the school installed a lab comprised of a “market wall” of two 65-inch monitors and a 20-foot LED ticker that streams data for U.S. markets to aid participating district students in a simulated statewide stock market competition.

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