Nov 29, 2019

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

I came across Melissa Santoyo's op-ed in her college paper at Northwestern University and definitely wanted to learn more. In the op-ed, Melissa describes the challenges that first-gen students face in completing the FAFSA and how it can be a hindrance to higher education. She also notes how widespread financial illiteracy is among all undergrads and makes the argument that financial literacy is a privilege which not everyone has access to. This reality is what the community of personal finance educators is trying to change everyday by increasing access at the high school and college levels. I know you will enjoy hearing from this incredible advocate! 


  • 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.”

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.

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