Arizona Pathways to Life Success for University Students


A research study that finds pathways to happiness.

Healthy relationships, responsible financial decisions, and personally meaningful work are three pillars of adult happiness. Achieving stability in these life domains can be viewed as setting the foundation for adult happiness.

How do young adults develop the knowledge, skills and values that lead to long-term stability and happiness?

Project Synopsis

COMING Fall 2022!
After 5 waves of collecting data, and an over 10 year run of groundbreaking, impactful research, the original APLUS project, led by Dr. Joyce Serido, University of Minnesota, and Dr. Soyeon Shim, University of Wisconsin-Madison, will no longer be looking to launch any new waves of data collection. However, a new group of researchers, led by Dr. Dan McDonald, will be investigating launching a NEW Aplus Project - APLUS 2.0 ---- again soliciting participation from University of Arizona students in a new longitudinal study of financial wellness.  Again, led by the Take Charge America Institute, APLUS 2.0 will be an exciting opportunity to capitalize on the success of the original APLUS project with a new group of Generation Z participants, facing unprecedented challenges such as a global pandemic and generational economic inflation.  Stay tuned for more information.

Spring - Summer, 2016 
Dr. Serido, University of Minnesota, Dr. Shim, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Dr. Curran, University of Arizona launch Wave 4: Adult Financial Capability, Stability and Well-Being.

Survey data collected from 855 of the original study sample, five- years out of college and approaching 30 examined how finances, relationships, and achievements influence young adults’  happiness and well-being.

The Wave 4 study was made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment of Financial Education and the Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates.

Fall, 2014
Dr. Serido becomes Associate Professor, Family Social Science in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota.

APLUS a unique longitudinal study becomes a three-university collaboration.

Fall, 2012 - Spring, 2013
Dr. Serido assumes the role of APLUS Principal Investigator as Dr. Shim becomes the Dean of the School of Human Ecology, The University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Together, they launch Wave 3: Adaptation and Resilience in financial, career, and life success among Young Adults to examine how life choices and opportunities facing today's young adults contribute to, or detract from, personal, financial, and career well-being

The Wave 3 study was made possible through the generous support of the National Endowment for Financial Education and the Citi Foundation.

Fall, 2010 – Spring, 2011
Dr. Shim and Dr. Serido launch Wave 2: Young Adults’ Financial Capability Study

Survey data collected from over 1,500 of the participants in the baseline study as they prepare to leave college to understand how prepared they are for the life-changing experiences awaiting them as they enter the world of full-time adult responsibility.

Spring, 2009
Dr. Shim and Dr. Joyce Serido, Co-Principal Investigator, launch the Wave 1.5: Economic Impact Study

Shortly after the global financial credit crisis, data collected from a subsample (748) of the baseline study participants to understand the immediate impact of the recession on young adults’ financial behaviors.

Fall, 2007 – Spring, 2008
Dr. Soyeon Shim, Professor/Former Director of the Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences and original APLUS Principal Investigator, launches Wave 1: Baseline Study

Survey data collected from more than 2,000 first-year students enrolled at the University of Arizona to understand the pre-college experiences that contributed to college students’ financial attitudes and behaviors.


For information about a variety of financial literacy resources available to the public, visit The office of the Comptroller of the Currency at the US Department of the Treasury.

For current tips and advice on managing your finances visit the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

For the latest information on changing financial policies regarding consumer credit visit the Federal Reserve website.

For help in managing your money, visit

See the President’s Advisory Council on Financial Capability Final Report, where APLUS is cited as part of making the case for financial capability of youth, and the Final Report with recommendations.

See also our list of Publications.


Funding for this research comes from the National Endowment for Financial Education® (NEFE®) and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. Thank you for your commitment to this research and the financial well-being of the next generation

NEFE®is an independent, nonprofit foundation committed to educating Americans on a broad range of financial topics and inspiring empowered financial decision making for individuals and families through every stage of life. To learn more about NEFE, visit

Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates is dedicated to making college education a reality since 1967. For additional information, visit

Portions of the content for this website has been graciously provided by Dr. Joyce Serido, and the website.