The College of Education and Human Development is giving a new mission to its Center for Economic Education, a research arm of the college that works to boost financial literacy.
In addition to training K-12 educators to explain economics and personal finance to their students, the center will also focus on research to help families plan for and manage the cost of college.
Jake Gross, an education professor who directs the center, said its primary task will be to address social, economic and educational inequalities by helping students and their families understand the economics of higher education.
“Research shows that too many families start saving too late for college,” said Gross. “If we can help families start earlier and better comprehend all of their financial options, there’s no doubt more people could go to college.”
As an example, Gross explained that 40 percent of Kentucky high school graduates did not complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form and left an estimated $2,080 per eligible student in federal Pell Grant money on the table.
“This is low hanging fruit,” Gross said. “Just addressing these two issues could make a substantial difference.”
The center was established in 1974 and has been dormant since 2011 due to personnel and leadership changes at the college. Gross and the center’s assistant director Casey George-Jackson have spent decades researching and analyzing personal finance and the economics of education. They will be the primary researchers.
“We’ve completed quite a bit of research on this topic and our goal is to get it out there and make it useful,” George-Jackson said.