College is a period of increased financial vulnerability for many students. Taking out loans, paying taxes, saving money and simply managing personal expenses like rent and groceries can be overwhelming, frustrating and confusing for even the most organized student.
To help young people get a better grasp on their finances, TCF Bank has begun offering free money management classes online and at area high schools in states where TCF has branches, the Minnesota Daily reported Oct. 28. In a press release, TCF Vice Chairman Tom Jasper said the classes are “a genuine effort to help people become better consumers of financial services.”
Given the many questions surrounding TCF’s alleged predatory behavior in its relationship with the University, it makes sense the bank would want to show customers it can act for the good of the public and not just in its own self-interest. However, the fact that TCF itself is offering these classes may prove to be a conflict of interest, despite its partnership with EverFi, Inc., an education technology company that, according to TCF’s website, “teams with major corporations and foundations to provide the programs at no cost to K-12 schools.”
If students taking these classes fall under the impression that the methods of opening checking and savings accounts or the process of applying for loans are being taught specific to TCF Bank, they may feel compelled to open accounts with TCF instead of shopping around for other banks that may be a better fit for them in the long run. Personal finance would be better taught through an objective lens that allows comparisons of banking practices across multiple corporations.
We encourage students to take whatever steps they can to improve their understanding of personal finance, while keeping in mind that bank-sponsored classes are likely to come with a heavy bias.