For those that don’t know, April is National Financial Literacy Month. This represents the time of year when there is a concerted effort to help increase the financial acumen of people representing all generations. Student financial literacy efforts on campuses have been gaining momentum in the higher education industry as colleges and universities attempt to equip their students for success by helping them feel more comfortable and knowledgeable about their personal finances. Most universities and colleges have been successfully weaving small components of financial literacy into their programmatic endeavors for the past couple of years. However, there is no better time than the present to start ramping up those efforts exponentially.
1. Identify The Need
Before you even begin contemplating a financial literacy program on your campus, you first have to justify that your student population needs help in the area of personal finance. And trust me, the more effort you put into this task on the front end, the better your chances of securing resources (time and money) on the back end.
The good news is that white papers from the industry (COHEAO) reflect that financial literacy initiatives on a campus can improve student financial behaviors and, in some cases, make the difference on whether a student successfully achieves their education goals or makes the decision to leave school entirely. We all know that it is more cost effective to retain a current student versus trying to recruit a new one.
If you need additional justification for starting a financial literacy program on your campus, I would encourage you to refer to the recently released Money Matters on Campus Survey Report sponsored by EverFi and HigherOne. This survey provides some very sobering statistics about the financial acumen of first-year college students.
2. Discern Your Target Market
Some may think that financial literacy is just for currently enrolled traditional college students but I would encourage you to think outside of the box and ponder the many different populations that interact with your campus community. The following represents many of the different groups in which you could promote your Financial Literacy Programming (FLP).
- Prospective/Deposited Students – Incorporate your FLP as a value-added service that your school provides for interested students – could be extremely timely when paired with the delivery of financial aid packages. Also helps to distinguish you from other schools…
- Incoming/First Year Students – If you have a first year experience program, this could be the gateway to implementing a FLP component into your curriculum.
- Current Traditional Students– Your FLP can serve as an ongoing resource for students as they move through their educational career
- Upward Bound/TRIO Students – The Federal TRIO program has a requirement for student financial literacy in its funding stipulations – your FLP could satisfy that mandate.
- Adult Students – Regardless of what phase of life your students are enjoying, a refresher on financial literacy can never hurt.
- Parents – Your FLP is mostly focused on students but I see no reason why parents can’t have access (and possibly utilize it with any high-school age siblings)
- Faculty/Staff – Similar to the same reasoning referenced above for Adult Students and Parents
- Alums – Your FLP could be a useful tool as your alums are embarking upon real-world financial challenges and need some guidance.
3. Find The Best Approach For Delivery
Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet concept when it comes to promoting financial literacy at your college. Every campus community is different and each individual student (or target group identified above) is unique in what will grab their attention and spur them to engage your resources. So, the best approach to delivery usually incorporates multiple channels and varied mediums. The following represent a few approaches for your consideration.
- Email Campaigns
- Classroom Curriculum
- Social Media
- Posters/Flyers/Table Tents
- Interactive Games (Financial Football)
- Free Online Resources (CashCourse.org among others)
- Custom Email Signatures Highlighting Your Online Resources
- 3rd Party Financial Literacy Providers (iGrad.com, SaltMoney.org & GradReady)
- Individual Counseling
As you can see from the information provided above, student financial literacy programming on your campus can be as simple or complex as you make it – ultimately, the choice is yours. However, at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you are doing something to help encourage the financial success of your student population. Remember, financially prepared students = happy students. And happy students = retained students. And retained students = graduated students. And graduated students = donating alumni. It’s hard to argue with that…
About The Author
Doug Schantz currently serves as the director for the Office of Student Accounts at Wittenberg University and thoroughly enjoys topics related to paying for college, saving for college, financial literacy, scholarships, financial aid, education loans and just about any subject matter that you can think of related to college expenses. Feel free to connect with Doug on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.