Exploring the relationship between financial behaviors and financial well-being of African American college students at one historically black institution

Fluellen, Vivian
Major Professor
Robert Bosselman
Patricia M. Swanson
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Apparel, Events and Hospitality Management

College students are at an important time in their lives as they move from financial dependence to financial independence. Given this concern, motivating young adults to save is an important objective. Research on college students and their finances has focused on credit card use. The current study explored the relationship between financial social learning opportunities and financial behaviors of African American college students at one HBCU. Similar studies have been done at predominately white institutions and community colleges, but none examined 1890 historically black colleges.

The current study drew from social theory to attempt to understand saving behavior. Bandura (1977) proposed that people can learn from others by observing and modeling their behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions. Survey data were used to determine the relationship between financial social learning opportunities and financial behaviors of college students focusing on three financial behaviors: budgeting, checking credit report, and saving. The instrument used to collect survey data was modified to include questions to identify African American demographics, and included several scales to measure the financial behaviors of college students. Descriptive and inferential statistical procedures were use to analyze the data.

It is interesting to note that financial social learning opportunities were significantly related to financial behaviors of African American college students. This finding is consistent with previous studies that revealed a significant relationship between financial socialization factors and financial behaviors. A positive relationship was found between financial social learning opportunities and financial behavior. Specifically, the likelihood of African American college students' saving was positively related to financial social learning opportunities including discussing finances with parents.

This research has implications for future research as well as practice. Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) may consider offering a course on financial management to provide students early in their college careers with the basic skills and tools necessary to become responsible financial consumers, and workshops to incoming students. Financial workshops may also be offered to parents as students tend to model their parents' behavior. If parents are taught basic money management skills, they may also model good behavior for their children.