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    Project Summary: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

    The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s project expands on its existing Center for Economic and Financial Education and Financial Wellness Program to reach a greater number of students though more tailored programming and targeted marketing.


    Project plan and activities:


    The Center for Economic and Financial Education works to improve the economic and financial well-being of consumers and their families by providing the latest in educational resources, evaluation tools, and cutting-edge research, and offers comprehensive training and support to financial education providers. The Financial Wellness Program offers educational programming to the community and student organizations, through both interactive presentations tailored to specific audiences and one-on-one consultations. Each semester, 10-15 students work as Peer Educators who develop outreach materials. The Program maintains a YouTube channel, posts articles on its Facebook page, and sends tweets though its Twitter account. Relevant resources are also available from the University of Illinois Student Financial Services and Cashier Operations Student Money Management Center (SMMC).


    In addition to these existing resources, this project engages students by leveraging existing programming, initiating more aggressive marketing, offering in-person and webinar workshops, expanding the work of Peer Educators, and developing modules to incorporate in existing programs for undergraduate and graduate students and postdocs. Workshops and seminars were developed that are short, specific and timely to attract students and to increase relevance and impact. Workshops are also offered separately for undergraduate and graduate students, to ensure targeted students obtain relevant information for their academic level.


    This project emphasizes collaboration with specific academic departments to offer more intensive discipline- and stage-specific programming. The university incorporates financial literacy and debt management sessions into Preparing Future Faculty programs to develop best practices that can eventually be expanded campus-wide.


    Program content is tailored to students’ academic stages. Beginning undergraduates receive education on basic budgeting and cash flow, comparing college funding options, understanding interest, living on vs. off campus, and taxes. More advanced undergraduates learn about salary negotiations, loan repayment options, cost/benefits of graduate school, and funding graduate studies. Content for beginning graduate students include education on health insurance, living expenses, residency issues, funding options, costs of extended time-to-degrees, and buying vs. renting a home while in graduate school. Advanced graduate students and postdocs receive information on salary/benefit negotiation, paying back loans, retirement savings plans, and weighing employment options.


    Finally, program directors work with the University Administration and Graduate College offices on issues of institutional responsibility and sustainability by incorporating greater concerns for student finances and financial literacy into the infrastructure of the university. Data collected is used to prompt and inform strategic, high-level conversations about what Illinois can do to better help undergraduate and graduate students make sound financial decisions.


    More information on the project can be found here.


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