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Financial Literacy Program


  • Empower and encourage high school youth in New Jersey to be better prepared to control their personal finances to meet their life goals.
  • Provide Monmouth University students with an opportunity to actively engage in applied learning through interaction with local community projects.
Student Participants from Leon Hess Comprehensive Secondary School in Charlotte, St. Lucia.

Audience Served

The targeted participants are freshman, sophomore, junior and senior high school students in Monmouth and Ocean counties in New Jersey, as well as international students.


Dr. Janeth Merkle, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement

Project Description

Taking our cue from a USA Today study that indicates “first year college students required to take a financial literacy course in high school are significantly more likely that their peers who didn’t take a class to be financially responsible…”, the administrators and faculty of the Leon Hess Business School at Monmouth University provide a no-cost weekly series of financial literacy workshops on the campus of the University to high school students. With the guidance of faculty and administrators, and capitalizing on the knowledge, skills, and talents of Monmouth University business majors and students from the MU Honors School, team-taught weekly modules first introduce the high school students to a university environment, and then educate them on the importance of financial planning, budgeting, and personal financial management.

A cohort of high school students is selected through a competitive selection process by the partner school’s administrators and teachers. Selection criteria is developed jointly by MU and its partner school, and is aligned with the Leon Hess Business School’s mission statement and guiding principles. The cohort of students are transported to the University campus once per week. Each session is three hours in duration and team-taught by a faculty member from the Leon Hess Business School and Leon Hess Business School students.

The Project Modules to be taught include the following:

Module 1: Goal Setting

Goal setting is an important activity that one should practice in life. Whether it is short-term or long-term, goals provide a set of directions, which will then influence the type of actions and strategies an individual should undergo to accomplish them. Goals provide motivation and encouragement as a person prepares for his future.

Topics Covered:

  1. Visualize your goal
  2. Failure is success in progress
  3. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Bound (SMART) model
  4. Activity: Students complete a Goals Worksheet

Module 2: Career Planning

Beginning in first-year high school, a student should start planning for their future. Whether their intention is to work in an ice cream parlor or to get an internship that requires technical skills, a high school student should begin exploring their interest, learn to be aware of opportunities, and realize the importance of gaining experience.

Topics Covered:

  1. Learn about yourself
  2. Identify possible careers
  3. Train for a career
  4. Revenue stream for a chosen career
  5. Activity: Students complete a Career Planning Worksheet

Module 3: Higher Education

Higher education offers both benefits and opportunities to those who have earned it. Investing in higher education can be a challenge. The increasing cost of tuition has become one of the reasons why some high school students are not motivated to go to college. However, there are ways to reduce the cost of higher education, and there are strategies on how to pay for college.

Topics Covered:

  1. College costs
  2. The hidden costs of college
  3. College is an investment
  4. Paying for college
  5. Payback time for student debt
  6. Activity: Researching college options

Module 4: Budget

This module will discuss the importance of a personal budget. We will review the components of a sound budget focusing on the need to live below your means so that you can create investment capital.

Topics Covered:

  1. Organizing a Personal Budget
  2. Gross vs. net pay
  3. Prudent spending practices
  4. Wants vs. needs
  5. Fixed vs. variable expenses
  6. Income taxes
  7. Activity: Preparation of a personal budget

Module 5: Investment

This module focuses on how to select the best place to put your savings. We will review the powerful concept of compound interest. We will also show how starting an investment strategy early in life is helpful in establishing a strong financial foundation.

Topics Covered:

  1. Opening a bank account
  2. Investment basics
  3. Intro into the Stock Market
  4. Bond investing
  5. Investment strategies
  6. Activity: Compare the potential results of different types of investments

Module 6: Credit

This module focuses on the sound practices of using credit cards and loans. We will discuss the difference between good credit and bad credit. We will highlight the importance of managing your credit rating.

Topics Covered:

  1. Credit basics
  2. Credit Cards
  3. Credit Report
  4. Car loans
  5. Mortgages
  6. Activity: Analysis of the credit cycle from borrowing to the ultimate repayment of debt

For more information, please contact Dr. Janeth Merkle, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement at