Scholarship addresses youth financial illiteracy

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Post-secondary education is expensive — there is no denying it. Whether you are paying for school on your own, getting assistance from the government or simply lucked out with a trust fund, you all know that education doesn’t come cheap. But do you know how to handle your money?

In late May, Brandes Investment Partners & Co., announced a new scholarship program that aims to better education Canadian youth on financial literacy so that they are better prepared for the future.

“The whole point of this is providing some awareness and education to Canadian youth,” said Carol Lynde, president of Brandes Investment Partners & Co.

“I think if you look at the programs in high school, and even in university, there is not a lot provided in terms of financial help and [the] kind of financial personality that you have.”

The program includes a self-knowledge quiz, titled “The Money Factor”, which helps applicants assess the type of investor they are. There are three aspects that address your spending and saving habits, whether you’re a risk taker, and how much interest you have in financial matters.

Ryan Chen-Wing, the project leader for Waterloo Banking Project, a student-run financial service that aids university students in Waterloo, expanded on this idea.

“Any initiative to support financial literacy is a good thing,” he stated. “We know that there are a lot of different [institutions] that can help students take better initiative and we know that we aren’t able to solve or increase students’ financial skills on our own.”

While Chen-Wing believes “They maybe missed an opportunity to explain what some of the choices represent more,” he agrees that the program is “certainly worthwhile.”

However, it is difficult to say if all students are acutely aware of their own financial personality.

“I think that there should be more, some sort of course or guide for people who don’t know anything about finance,” said Danielle Kehoe, a business student at Wilfrid Laurier University. While some programs are required to teach their students about finance, investments and savings, most other programs don’t feature those kinds of resources.

The foundation for the Brandes Scholarship Program came from a 2011 report titled “Canadians and Their Money,” which included the findings from a government-launched task force in 2010 that looked into the financial literacy of Canadians.  Lynde explained that their program was created in response to these findings, to better educate young Canadians about their money.

“Hopefully it just raises awareness for you in terms of the type of investor that you are and peeks your interest,” said Lynde. “What we want to do in the future is then provide the next step. Providing more information and education on investing and what that means to you.”

The Brandes Scholarship will award 10 successful applicants a sum of $1000 towards their education. Students interested in applying can do so at:  www.brandesscholarship.ca, by July 20.

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