Come fall, students looking for advice on their personal spending will have access to financial counseling on campus.
In response to students’ requests, the University of Minnesota’s One Stop Student Services is equipping its employees, who previously dealt primarily with scholarships and students loans, with the expertise to counsel students about personal finance. One Stop employees hope the new program will urge students to reevaluate their spending practices.
One Stop director Julie Selander said counselors and administrators noticed students asking about a wide array of personal financial issues, ranging from making a budget to paying off student loans.
“We know that the need is out there,” she said. “We want students to graduate with a manageable amount of debt, if any at all.”
Selander said counselors at One Stop are using an online financial training program created by Inceptia, a company that educates university staff and students about debt and financial aid. So far, the new program has helped about 10 students, she said.
Statistics senior Matt Gardner said his major prepped him with the knowledge to create a budget and plan for college. He said he thinks many students may be ill-prepared and lack the proper background knowledge for managing their finances.
“You come in as a freshman, and you don’t need to know anything about having a budget or paying bills,” he said.
He said he arranges bill payments for his roommates and said students should learn early on about finances during their freshman year.
Nate Peterson, assistant director of One Stop, finished his financial training in May and took part in the unofficial launch of the new financial advising earlier this summer.
He said the class took about 50 hours to complete and started with larger-scale lessons like calculating the time-value of money and progressed to lessons on topics like curbing spending and buying a house.
“The difficulty of each chapter definitely progressed to things like debt management and risk management,” Peterson said.
He said there are two types of students who have taken advantage of the service so far: those who were eager to get a jump start on their finances and students who were in the middle of financial difficulty.
Peterson said One Stop employees hope to see more students proactively act with their finances.
And in the fall, One Stop is planning to reach out to students through emails and booths in Coffman Union.
Selander said she believes the earlier students learn about their finances, the better off they will be when they graduate.
She said One Stop prints out a compiled list of a student’s loans at GradFest, a spring event where students learn more about graduation, and many are surprised by the amount in loans they have.
“It was eye opening for me to see students shocked at how much debt they have,” she said. “We want to get in front of this and begin to infuse good behavior and decisions.”