Students and faculty will soon have a new resource to improve their financial well-being.
The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid will unveil its new Dollars and Sense Program at Campus Connections I on Aug. 18 with the intent to help students make better financial decisions while in school and after.
“We are still in the beginning stages, but we are gearing up to promote the program through interactive social media,” said Scholarships and Financial Aid Assistant Director Andrea Orndorff. “By this I mean, we have a Facebook page and Instagram set up and we plan to post daily in an attempt to provide requested information about financial wellness, and to have students interact with us, and really tell us what they are struggling with and what they need assistance with.”
On the Facebook page for example, each day has a theme from the classic “Throwback Thursdays” to “Self-free Saturdays” where people post selfies of themselves at free events recommended on the page. These contrast the more informational themes, such as “Finance Fridays” with posts dedicated to budgeting.
“What we’re trying to do with the program is create an environment where students can, and everybody can, get information to make smart choices, not just in college, but beyond,” said Scholarships & Financial Aid Senior Associate Director Michelle Thompson.
Once the social media phase gets going, Scholarships & Financial Aid will begin the educational programming phase by creating PowerPoint presentations and reaching out to students and parents for feedback and topics of interest.
During the last phase, the office will develop its own events for the program, such as “100 Days to Graduation.”
Starting out, information from the program will come from an array of sources, such as NC State’s recent partnership with SALT, a financial literacy program backed by the non-profit group American Student Assistance.
“SALT has information about loan repayment, SALT has information about budgeting, paying mortgages, buying cars, what a FICO score is – those are the types of things we’re doing as a program,” Thompson said. “We’ll hit the same kinds of things. SALT will be a component of communicating that information, but it will not be the only thing.”
The program will also give advice on repaying loans, balancing a checkbook, understanding a paystub, savings and investment in addition to other areas.
Inspiration for Dollars and Sense came from the current economic climate, and a general need for this kind of information.
“It’s been a push – particularly in the higher education environment – with the situation in the economy, with tuition rising and student loans going up, I think that’s really been the impetus of what’s pushed this initiative generally speaking,” Thompson said. “What’s pushed this initiative here is the cry out for the need. We have faculty members asking for it, we have student groups asking for it, we have RA groups asking for it.”
Dollars and Sense should launch all phases within a year-and-a-half from now, but may not reach its full potential for another few years, according to Thompson.
Right now what I’d like to do is make everything available, and then maybe make it available just to the institutional community via Google Drive, shared documents, that type of thing… but that’s not where I envision that ending,” Thompson said.
For now the main focus lies in creating the content before other ideas, such as an external website, can take shape, according to Thompson.
By Sara Awad