FIRST GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENT FINANCIAL LITERACY: IMPACT OF SELF-EFFICACY AND BEHAVIOR
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Financial literacy among college students has received considerable attention particularly given the increasing costs of higher education and adverse financial behaviors including credit card and loan indebtedness. Now, more than ever, it is important that higher education administrators and educators take proactive steps to understand the components of financial literacy. The purpose of this study was to explore the financial literacy of first generation, low-income college students and the impact of self-efficacy and financial behavior. The study examined the relationship and differences in the financial literacy level of first generation, low-income students on the basis of academic and demographic measures, behavior, and self-efficacy. A financial framework was developed utilizing theories of social cognitive, self-efficacy and behavior. The sample included 117 students, participants of Student Support Services, a federal program that serves first generation, low-income and students with disabilities. The Financial Literacy Self-Efficacy Survey measured the respondents' financial literacy and self-efficacy level and was modeled from the Jump$tart College Student Survey Questionnaire (Mandell, 2008) and the Financial Self-Efficacy Scale (Lown, 2011). The financial literacy score for the study sample was 57.8 percent, below a passing score of 60 percent but within an average financial literacy level as defined by Mandell (2008). The self-efficacy score was 14.89, out of a possible 24 points. The level of self-efficacy suggests that the study sample lacked self-efficacy based on Lown's (2011) mean score of 17. The findings revealed that academic class, SAT/ACT scores, race/ethnicity and credit card use influenced financial literacy. The findings also indicate that the level of self-efficacy, credit debt, student loan debt, savings/investing and other demographic factors (i.e., employment, family income and gender) did not impact financial literacy. The findings provide a greater understanding of the components that influence the financial literacy level of first generation, low-income college students. Based on the study results, recommendations are made for the development of financial literacy education programs for students that address their stage in college, demographic and behavioral patterns.