Dollars and Sense 101: College students boning up on money matters

Sure most high schools and college students learn the basics like how to balance a checkbook, but few know how to navigate the complicated financial waters facing them when they graduate. Things like credit card debt, what's now required to get a loan and how easily your credit can take a beating are invaluable life skills.

Enter Union Bank vice president Pierre Habis, who taught a semester-long class at Chapman University in Orange, CA ,on financial literacy.

Habis, who began talking with university officials a year ago about teaching, told the Los Angeles Times he decided to do so because he saw signs that his own young employees weren't putting two and two together.

As an example, he said he watched people in their '20s leave for other jobs for minimal pay increases largely because they thought the move would help pay off their debts. The better long-term play, he said, would have been to stay at the bank.


Gianna Turner, a 2009 college grad wishes Habis was at her school. "I got into credit card debt," she explains. "It was so tempting to open new accounts. But I lacked the awareness that I could very easily get in too deep."

And get in deep she did. During her sophomore and junior years, Turner racked up $10,000 in credit card debt. "I've yet to find a full-time job in my field, so I'm working two part-time ones just to try and knock this debt down, while also paying off school-related loans and pay my rent."

Habis told the Times that both he and the students "had self-discovery about how much they didn't know." But slowly, they worked to close the gaps.

Hopefully, Habis' lesson plan will catch on at colleges and universities across the country.

"I'd go back to school and enroll in that class," says Turner. I suspect many other co-eds would follow.

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