Higher Education Ph.D. Dissertations


Examining the Personal Finance Attitudes, Behaviors, and Knowledge Levels of First-Year and Senior Students at Baptist Universities in the State of Texas

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Higher Education Administration

First Advisor

Robert DeBard (Advisor)


For nearly four decades scholars from various disciplines have studied college students' personal finance characteristics, primarily examining collegians' knowledge of consumer finance issues, but occasionally considering their attitudes or behaviors. In recent years there has been a surge in research projects examining college students' personal finance characteristics. No studies were found that simultaneously examined students' personal finance attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge, nor did the literature reveal research focused on the subjects of this study: students enrolled at Baptist universities in Texas. The purpose of this study, which was guided by eight research questions, was to examine the personal finance attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge levels of freshmen and seniors at Baptist universities in Texas, and to allow student affairs administrators employed at these institutions to offer their perceptions of students' personal finance characteristics and to provide suggestions regarding how institutions might address personal finance education. Online surveys were employed for data collection. Six Baptist universities in Texas were included in the study, 2,100 students (350 per institution, 175 first-year students and 175 seniors) were systematically sampled, and 408 (19%) usable surveys were completed. A convenience sample of student affairs administrators (n = 169) was selected and 100 (59%) usable surveys were completed. Data were primarily quantitative in nature, though administrators were encouraged to provide written comments that were analyzed through basic qualitative techniques. Most research questions, however, were answered through descriptive statistics, t tests, or ANOVA procedures. Seniors demonstrated significantly better personal finance attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge than first-year students. To a significant degree compared with first-year students, seniors credited their university experience with helping to improve their knowledge, while first-year students significantly differed from seniors in attributing the university experience with influencing their attitudes. Student affairs administrators consistently rated students' personal finance characteristics significantly lower than students rated themselves, and administrators generally felt college students lacked sound personal finance attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge. It was concluded that Christian-based universities should implement personal finance initiatives to fulfill their distinctive missions and prepare graduates for successful stewardship of fiscal resources, emphases that could become a hallmark of Christian-based higher education.