In the Harvey Aftermath: The Cost of Financial Education

In the Harvey Aftermath: The Cost of Financial Education

Ambrya Baldwin

U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Air and Marine Operations along with multiple other agencies and good citizens provide support to communities impacted by Hurricane Harvey in Beaumont, Texas on August 30, 2017. Photo credit: Donna Burton on

Texas is still hard at work putting the pieces together after Hurricane Harvey unleashed a fury of rain and devastation over the coast of the Lone Star state. The category 4 hurricane made landfall on August 25 near Rockport, Texas, moved east and stalled over Houston, dropping 50 inches of rain on the city in a matter of days. (Historic Hurricane Harvey’s Recap) By September 1, one-third of Houston was underwater. Flood waters damaged 203,000 homes and forced 39,000 people into shelters. (Amadeo)

After reeling from the catastrophic storm, homeowners are facing another devastating blow: massive out of pocket costs of rebuilding their homes. An estimated 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims did not have flood insurance. (Condon & Sweet)

“About 1.2 million properties in the Houston-Sugarland-Baytown area are at high/moderate risk of flooding but are not in the designated flood zone requiring insurance,” according to Condon and Sweet. Homeowners who decided not to purchase flood insurance prior to the hurricane, thinking about the short term monetary savings, have to take money out of savings or, more likely, accrue debt to pay for costs to rebuild or sell, if it’s even an option for them. The Houston Business Journal estimates $30 billion in damage to homes and vehicles alone in the Houston area. (Witthaus) This figure divided by the 203,000 homes destroyed gives a rough estimate of $150,000 in costs per household, most of which will be paid for by the homeowner.

As the fourth largest city in the U.S., Houston continues to grow in population and development, and the need for better financial planning and education for homeowners is imperative. Financial Mentors of America (FMA) offers high school students the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of financial management at a cost of $35 per student. Through taking the course, students learn how to budget, pay for college, buy a car, purchase insurance, and many other basic financial steps that high school students need after graduating. An investment in the financial education of students today reaps long-lasting benefits for the future of the city of Houston, the country, and beyond. A $35 fee for the FMA Real Life Financial Mathematics course can mean saving students hundreds of thousands of dollars in the future.

From the FMA website, “Real Life Financial Mathematics (RLFM) is a Texas approved, one-year blended online high school advanced math course. The CTE FIN MATH funded course integrates personal financial education, career discovery, postsecondary education funding and selection and reality-based math with five brain development skills – critical thinking, problem solving, team collaboration, communications and project-based learning.” (n.d.)

What is the cost of financial education? Do we measure it in RLFM course with a student license of $35 or do we measure it in the billions of dollars of losses sustained by the 80% of the population who had Harvey flooding, but lacked flood insurance? FMA offers a solution to the need for financial literacy for young adults. By providing the education of financial resources for young people today we can mitigate the lasting financial effects of natural disasters like Harvey in the future.

Reuters. (2017, September 3). Hurricane Harvey Damages Could Cost up to $180 Billion. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from

Amadeo, K. (2017, September 30). Hurricane Harvey Facts, Damage and Costs. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from

Condon, B., & Sweet, K. (2017, August 30). About 80% of Hurricane Harvey victims do not have flood insurance, face big bills. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from

Witthaus, J. (2017, August 29). Harvey’s impact: this is how much it’s going to cost Houston. Retrieved October 30, 2017, from

Historic Hurricane Harvey’s Recap. (2017, August 29). Retrieved October 30, 2017, from