Research - To The MAX!

Building an Exceptional Personal Finance Program

To ensure that MAX would truly engage students, increase financial knowledge and improve decision-making skills, AccessLex Institute initiated a pilot program to test specific program elements and delivery mechanisms. Beginning in the fall of 2016, AccessLex Institute collaborated with law school administrators and students to build an outcomes-based program to increase the financial capability of the law student community.

By April 2017, more than 5,000 law students and administrators at over 40 law schools had participated in the pilot program’s focus groups and surveys. Participants generously offered their insight on everything from financial knowledge and current financial behaviors to what schools and students want – and need – in a personal finance program.

The feedback was outstanding — and very revealing. Of the students surveyed:


twenty six percent Don't budget or track their spending seventy percent Feel stressed about personal finances
forty percent Worry about being able to pay for their monthly expenses seventy seven percent Are worried about their student debt growing
forty nine percent Leave a balance on their credit card(s) each month eighty five percent Give themselves a B- or lower grade on their personal finance knowledge


Students further commented that a law school that offered a well-defined personal finance curriculum would be viewed as "caring about their students as individuals" and "respectful of the substantial financial investment to attend." Many described it as a "selling point."


ninety eight percentOverall, a staggering 98% of student respondents saw benefit in a personal finance program - and would be thankful to have their institution provide one for them.

What began as an exciting pilot program in the fall of 2016 has been an inspiring journey - thanks to the dedication and participation of our 43 pilot program schools and more than 5,000 law students.

“Many of us are moving into high income careers, and many of us will graduate with massive debt. But most of us have little to no understanding of basic personal finance.”

                                                                                                                                    MAX Pilot Program Student Focus Group Participant


"AccessLex Institute’s Financial Education Pilot Program was a tremendous benefit to our law school. The students who participated in the program provided wonderful feedback about how valuable they found the information, and requested that this program be introduced into their regular curriculum as a required class."

                                                                                                                                             Kristina Wilhelm-Nelson
                                                                                                                                             Director, Financial Aid
                                                                                                                                             Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law