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Submission: UCLA curriculum should offer a personal finance course

By Aaron Boudaie

Nov. 14, 2016 9:24 p.m.

It is impossible to deny that UCLA is a top-flight academic institution. It offers tens of thousands of students from all walks of life the opportunity to grow into hardworking and well-rounded optimists who strive for excellence every day. I’m proud to be a Bruin, and you should be too.

However, as UCLA students, we should also shine light on UCLA’s inability to improve students’ financial literacy during our time here.

The sad reality is that many students at UCLA do not know how to apply for and pay back a loan, what a 401(k) is, how to file taxes, how a credit score works or how to read a credit card statement. In some cases, students graduate without being exposed to the basic and essential knowledge of how to open a bank account or balance a checkbook.

This is unacceptable. UCLA prides itself on providing students with a foundational understanding of a broad range of disciplines. We should take pride in our diversity of degrees and courses, but a truly well-rounded education must include financial literacy.

The principal way the university can sincerely address our deficit in financial literacy is by introducing a personal finance course that directly addresses this gap. This quarter, the USAC Financial Supports Commission has worked to construct the framework for a discussion regarding the creation of such a course. FSC staff researched areas of financial illiteracy for students and found that most of us lack the basic level of personal finance comprehension.

A personal finance course will help students learn basic financial terminology and better understand banking, credit, loans, taxes and retirement. This will allow students to more efficiently manage money and become more financially secure.

UCLA has inspired one generation of students after another to better our society through law, medicine, arts, public policy, entertainment, engineering, business and science. Yet, many students finish college without knowing the basics of personal finance. We must change that.

Administrators need to know that students from all pockets of campus would benefit from this course. Students want this course. The only worry should be that it might fill up too quickly.

This will take time to implement and institutionalize, but the FSC office is ready and excited to work with university administration to make this tangible change possible.

We are a school of optimists—and if we are successful in drafting the framework for a personal finance course, we can be optimistic about our personal finances, too.

Boudaie is a second-year political science student and chief of staff of the USAC Financial Supports Commission.

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