By: CHRISTINE AIKEN
If you’re looking to keep the debt monster away or simply want to improve your financial literacy, IU South Bend has a program for that.
Knowing how to manage money and stay out of debt may be one of the most important things a student can learn while in college, and the MoneySmarts program was put in place to help make that clear to students.
The MoneySmarts program, which started out simply as a website, includes many different tools students and educators can use to learn how to increase their financial knowledge and create a realistic budget, according to the site.
The site also has many informational podcasts available. One of the most popular podcasts is called “How Not To Move Back In With Your Parents.”
“They recruited students who are interested in participating and trained them on all of these principles called peer financial educators (PFE),” Stephen Salisbury, IUSB student and peer financial educator, said. “The job of those PFEs is to meet with students on a one-on-one basis or to do classroom presentations. There are a number of presentations that cover all kinds of various topics.”
For students who prefer a more personalized financial education, the Peer Financial Educators are available to meet with students one-on-one, free of charge. Stephen Salisbury and Morgan Talos are the PFEs at the IU South Bend campus, overseen by advisor Scott Strittmatter, Director of Student Life.
“Our job as Peer Financial Educators is to find out exactly what people are dealing with and help them access resources that are available,” Salisbury said. “We can talk about budgeting and we can talk about strategy for paying off your debt.”
Even though this program is newer to the South Bend campus, it has reduced the financial aid debt of students at IU Bloomington by approximately 24 percent in the two years it has existed there. This is particularly true of unsubsidized loans, where the interest continues to accrue while you are in school even though you are not yet required to pay anything back.
Salisbury spoke of unfortunate, yet not uncommon situations where students accept the total loan amount offered and end up with a significant refund after their tuition has been paid. Many of these students think it is ‘free money’ and spend it on luxury items such as video games or expensive clothing.
“When it comes time to pay the money back, the students have difficulty doing that because they have borrowed more than what was really needed,” Salisbury said.
The MoneySmarts program is available for both students in need of individual assistance as well as instructors who would find one of the many presentations available to be a tool for their students.