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    Enhancing Student Financial Education

    Today’s graduate and undergraduate students are in a much different place financially than previous generations of students. In 2012, total student debt for the first time exceeded $1 trillion and is now over $1.3 trillion. Rising debt levels can cause some students to defer graduate study or to decide that a graduate degree is not for them. At a time when public funding for education is decreasing and student debt is rising, more students are taking on debt to support their educational aspirations.


    To help students learn how to successfully manage their finances and educational costs, the Council of Graduate Schools, funded by a grant from TIAA, a leading financial services organization with a long history of serving those in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields, launched a three-year project to enhance the financial literacy of graduate and undergraduate students.


    Project Goals


    Participating colleges and universities designed programs that prepare students to play an active role in managing their personal finances and making informed decisions about saving, spending, and borrowing. The institutions addressed the needs of different groups of students, while considering factors such as their field of study, degree levels, and chosen career pathways, each of which has significant financial ramifications. CGS and partnering institutions collected and analyzed data to inform the development of innovative, new tools and resources for students.


    Key lessons and data from this groundbreaking program are available in the report: “Financial Education: Developing High Impact Programs for Graduate and Undergraduate Students,” available in PDF and at Through this initiative, CGS and partnering universities developed and delivered high quality financial literacy programs, assessed the impact of those programs, and documented best practices. Financial Education illustrates these efforts in-depth and provides diverse and innovative models and practical resources for helping produce and shape effective student financial education programs. This book will be of particular interest to graduate deans, financial aid officers, program directors, and faculty who are interested in understanding the financial circumstances and meeting the needs of today’s graduate students. Hard copies of this report are available to CGS members and non-members for purchase here.





    CGS has developed, a unique online education platform that provides students with financial information about a range of topics including the value of pursuing an advanced degree. Through interactive visualization tools and engaging infographics, we invite students to better understand a variety of issues related to borrowing and spending, potential future earnings, and money management.


    To integrate GradSense and related resources into your webpages, click here.


    Online Resource Library


    CGS has compiled helpful resources and tools for institutions, deans, and program directors seeking to prepare students for managing their personal finances and making informed decisions about saving, spending, and borrowing.


    Research Partners


    Through a competitive proposal process involving an independent selection committee, 15 institutions were selected and participated in the project as funded research partners. The institutions selected were:


    An additional 19 universities participated in the project as affiliate partners.




    Julia Kent


    In collaboration with:



    CGS is the leading source of information, data analysis, and trends in graduate education. Our benchmarking data help member institutions to assess performance in key areas, make informed decisions, and develop plans that are suited to their goals.
    CGS Best Practice initiatives address common challenges in graduate education by supporting institutional innovations and sharing effective practices with the graduate community. Our programs have provided millions of dollars of support for improvement and innovation projects at member institutions.
    As the national voice for graduate education, CGS serves as a resource on issues regarding graduate education, research, and scholarship. CGS collaborates with other national stakeholders to advance the graduate education community in the policy and advocacy arenas.  
    CGS is an authority on global trends in graduate education and a leader in the international graduate community. Our resources and meetings on global issues help members internationalize their campuses, develop sustainable collaborations, and prepare their students for a global future.