NGPF Classic: Melissa Santoyo on the importance of financial education for first-gen students

Oct 08, 2021
Podcasts, Advocacy

Rebroadcast from 2019.  Student advocacy for financial education is definitely having its moment (an inspiring story out of Montgomery County (MD) just this week). Listen to Melissa Santoya describe how the FAFSA can be a barrier to higher education and you will get fired up thinking about ways to increase access to this essential course. Enjoy! 


  • 0:00~1:18 Introduction
  • 1:18~2:09 What Melissa does on a day-to-day basis 
  • 2:09~4:13 Learning to manage money growing up
  • 4:13~6:14 First job and the first paycheck 
  • 6:14~8:42 Figuring out a college major 
  • 8:42~12:45 Motivation for writing the article 
  • 12:45~14:30 Reactions to the article 
  • 14:30~16:47 Figuring out how to do finances
  • 16:47~18:22 On the lack of personal finance topics taught in high school
  • 18:22~21:02 Ideas for an effective personal finance class
  • 21:02~21:29 A word from NGPF
  • 21:29~23:17 Importance of teaching retirement
  • 23:17~25:14 The stress that comes along with the FAFSA
  • 25:14~27:18 Raising awareness regarding the importance of personal finance
  • 27:18~29:24 Pitch for a good personal finance course 
  • 29:24~31:07 Conclusion 



  • “I turned to my layout editor and said ‘I have a story about how financial literacy is a privilege to have on this campus and at elite institutions and how the FAFSA acts as a barrier for first-gen, low-income students.’ And my layout editor said ‘everyone shut-up, she’s got an idea!’”

  • “A financial literacy course would have done more for me than I can describe. It would have done more for my family, my brother, and it would just help a lot of communities in a lot of ways.”


Here are some other amazing students on the NGPF Podcast:


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.