The Best Financial Literacy Tools for Students

What is financial literacy and how can it help students? Learn how to use financial literacy tools for college students and make smarter money decisions.

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by Staff Writers

Updated March 23, 2022

Reviewed by R.J. Weiss

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The Best Financial Literacy Tools for Students


According to the National Financial Educators Council, a large percentage of college-aged students fail its financial literacy exam. Despite this, 57% of college students had at least one credit card as of 2019.

Understanding how to spend, save, and invest money is one of the most important skills you can have, and learning how to do this now can help you avoid costly mistakes in college and beyond.

www.bestcolleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Ready to start your journey?

Whether you're just starting to think about budgeting in college or you're intrigued by the cryptocurrency boom, make sure you understand the mechanics of financial management before diving in.

What Is Financial Literacy?

To be financially literate, it helps to have a solid and confident understanding of terms like saving, budgeting, investing, and money management. Beyond understanding what these terms mean, you should also be able to implement them in smart ways that enhance your personal financial management.

Being able to save money to invest in retirement planning programs or the stock market allows you to build wealth for the future, while budgeting helps ensure you're not living outside your means.

Top 5 Websites for Student Financial Literacy

A ton of websites provide financial literacy tools for college students that help them learn about financial planning and make more savvy money decisions. Check out these to get started.

FinAid

FinAid is a great resource for understanding the true costs of attending college and your options for paying for the education you receive. FinAid provides comprehensive explanations and examples of different types of financial aid, including college loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs.

Users can also access custom calculators to figure out how much their specific education will cost, how to cover expenses, and how much their eventual loan payment will cost.

CashCourse

CashCourse provides free accounts to students that allow them to complete financial literacy coursework and assignments and take advantage of a suite of financial tools. School administrators can also access CashCourse to provide financial literacy training to students.

Some of the programs available include a personalized dashboard for tracking progress, customizable financial tools, education courses, articles and blog posts, and answers to common money-related questions.

Salt Money

Salt Money provides numerous services, including help finding the best laptops currently available based on product reviews and buying guides.

Within the personal finance section of the website, users can find several blog posts published each week covering popular topics such as buying stocks and cryptocurrencies, how to spot personal loan scammers, and how to pick the best budgeting app for your needs.

AFSA Education Foundation

AFSA Education Foundation is a nonprofit focused on educating middle school, high school, and college students on financial matters. The foundation provides MoneySkill, a free personal finance course offered online.

The program currently covers 37 different topics, including income over the life cycle, federal income taxes, renting/owning a home, short-term and long-term savings plans, credit cards, and retirement planning. Students can complete MoneySkill on their own or as part of a school curriculum.

FINRA Foundation

With a focus on providing both education and research to build financial literacy, the FINRA Investor Education Foundation offers tools and courses that help consumers protect themselves from fraud, learn about investing, manage and grow money, and create more inclusive financial circles by addressing systemic wealth disparities.

The foundation also conducts an annual national financial capability study and offers a fellowship program for doctoral students.

Top 3 Apps for Student Financial Literacy

With so much financial management happening on our phones these days, many apps are available to help educate students on financial literacy and manage their money along the way.

World of Money

World of Money focuses on building a citizenry of financially literate adults by focusing on one child at a time. The app provides financial training for youth ages 7-18 and offers individualized coursework. Students interested in business and saving can also take advantage of the Moguls program, which provides different curricula for students ages 7-26.

This program serves the New York Tri-State area and partners with more than 200 public, private, independent, and charter schools.

Zogo

Zogo aims to expand financial literacy by providing engaging, educational games that teach important principles. With a focus on Gen Z, the Zogo app offers more than 300 gamified modules that allow students to cover topics at their own pace — and have fun along the way.

Partnering with banks and credit cards in all 50 states, the app incentivizes engagement by giving users the chance to earn checking account bonuses and gift cards if they complete more modules.

Mint

If you're looking for an easy, intuitive way to manage your money, set savings goals, and create workable budgets, Mint is a great app for keeping up with your money while on the go.

The app resonates with users by creating a place where credit and debit cards, investments, bills, and income can all come together for easy management. Students can see how their net worth grows while their student loan balances diminish.

The learning doesn't need to stop here

Explore the rest of our collection of financial education resources to continue your journey to a healthy financial future.

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Top 4 Tools for Student Financial Literacy

Students who like to organize their financial data based on personalized tracking and comparison systems may enjoy some of the free and paid tools outlined below.

Google Sheets

A cloud-based system, Google Sheets can help you manage data before making financial decisions. Students can create a Sheet comparing on-campus and off-campus housing options, for example, to see which one makes the most financial sense for their situation.

Microsoft Excel

If you have a school-based email address, you may be able to sign up for Office 365 Education for free and access Microsoft Excel. This powerful tool allows you to create customized financial management systems or download one of the countless budgeting templates created for Excel.

Investor.gov: Free Financial Planning Tools

Hosted by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, this site's financial planning tools include calculators to understand compound interest, manage savings goals, estimate Social Security benefits, and figure out how much you need to save for retirement.

Investopedia: The Ultimate Guide to Financial Literacy

Investopedia provides this comprehensive review of the components of financial literacy completely free.

On-Campus Services for Financial Literacy

Many colleges and universities provide campus-based and online services to help you build your knowledge of financial literacy and make good decisions — both while a student and after graduating.

Frequently Asked Questions About Student Financial Literacy

How do you develop financial literacy?

You can develop financial literacy in a variety of ways. Any of the websites, apps, and tools highlighted in this guide can help teach you the basic principles of financial literacy. You can also listen to podcasts about personal finance, follow finance experts on social media, or start to track your spending and saving.

The most important thing is to find a tool or system that keeps your interest and that you will regularly refer to and learn from, rather than letting it fall by the wayside.

What are the five principles of financial literacy?

The five principles of financial literacy are earning, spending, saving and investing, borrowing, and protecting. Understanding the functions of each of these principles can help you understand how far your paycheck will go, create a personal budget, determine savings goals, responsibly use credit cards and loans, and prevent issues around fraud.

These principles play key roles in personal financial management at every life stage, making them important to learn.

What are common misconceptions about financial literacy?

Many students may believe they don't need to learn about financial literacy while they're still in school, or that it only matters for those who plan to work in business settings. Others may feel it only relates to high-income earners with extra money to spend and invest.

In reality, financial literacy is important to people of all ages and at every financial level. Being financially literate can help you build wealth and avoid debt.

DISCLAIMER: The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute professional financial advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. Readers of this website should contact a professional advisor before making decisions about financial issues.


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