The decisions college students make regarding taking on debt can have long-lasting impacts. This study relies on survey data collected in 2018 and 2019 from two private colleges in Illinois and Washington state. The focus of the study is to examine the actual and perceived financial literacy of college students and their subsequent financial behaviors with a focus on student loan debt and credit card usage. Our findings indicate that collegiate administrators, staff, and faculty should focus efforts on increasing students’ financial literacy, particularly first-generation students and women, to encourage healthy financial behaviors to improve financial decision making throughout a student’s college experience and life.
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