Helping dollars make sense on a college campus isn’t easy, but it is vitally important. For staff at Louisiana State University in the Student Financial Management Center, we want students to not only be retained and to graduate, but we want to help equip them with the tools they need to be successful in the “real world” and we know that a big part of that comes from financial and money management education.
Four years ago, one-third of LSU students identified their current financial situation as always or often stressful. What we know is that if a student is stressed about his or her finances then focusing on academics and other pieces of the college experience become exponentially more difficult. So, knowing the problem – we are working toward a solution. At LSU, this starts Day 1, or in reality Day 0 in their life as a LSU tiger. During each orientation session, incoming LSU students are educated about financial literacy and keeping a budget while they are students. Through teaching them about the resources and the reasons for overspending, we are trying to tackle the problem of lack of financial education head-on. This also comes with a focus on first year students. In partnership with First Year Experience, the LSU SFMC created a five-part series called First Year Finances helping students learn how to earn, spend, save, and repay money.
In addition, we spread the word of financial literacy through presentations to courses, student organizations, Greek organizations, and in the residence halls. Bottom line, if a group will let us talk to students about the importance of money management – we make ourselves available. However, probably the most intimate way we are helping teach financial literacy is through our one-on-one appointments. In the one-on-one setting we are able to help a student create a budget using their financial history and behaviors and answer questions specific to the student. We have found students to appreciate the one-on-one attention. Following an appointment one student said, “The staff in the SFMC was very warm and understanding of a typical college student’s financial woes. Whether you’re just entering college, or about to leave campus for the big, scary world, I felt confident that the advice she was giving me was not only helpful, but would be easy to implement and follow so that I could be financially stable during this scary time.“ We believe our background in student affairs helps us to better serve LSU students and help put financial concepts in easy to understand language.
Last, and certainly not least, the Student Financial Management Center focuses a significant amount of time and resources to sending students to resources on the web. We recognize that we cannot touch every student in person, but we do have the opportunity to reach thousands of students through the internet.
Finally, this year LSU took the leap into implementing Buttonwood: The LSU Financial Literacy Challenge for all first year and transfer students. For the first time in the four years of our existence, we have been able to educate the large mass of first year students having a completion rate of over 62%. Only time will tell what this means for LSU students, but we are excited for the potential to come in educating LSU students regarding financial literacy. Geaux Tigers!