Finance management seems to be a skill that often gets overlooked in college. Financial Aid Counselor Ron Toles and the other members of the Financial Aid office staff want to make sure that is not the case here at Eastern.
This semester, the financial aid office created a Financial Literacy Program, and Toles was tasked with creating the component parts.
The program, titled “Financial Literacy and You,” (FLY) has two main parts: prevention and management. Both are available to all students associated with Eastern, regardless of whether they are graduate or undergraduate and regardless of which campus they study on.
The prevention program is the larger of the two and covers a number of topics and financial areas of interest including loan payment, money management, questions or uncertainty about credit scores and paying one’s Eastern bill, to name a few.
Toles expressed that he and his team will be doing presentations on campus and classroom visits and discussions. They will also be allowing campus clubs and organizations to request them to appear at meetings or events to give talks. If students feel more comfortable interacting online, the program also includes a website and several online resources offering money management help and advice. “The prevention (program) is everything we’re doing with the students on campus to help them be better money managers before they graduate,” says Toles. “It’s preventing them from defaulting on their loans or not understanding what a credit score is and all those kinds of things that happen in the real world.”
One of the more personalized aspects of the prevention program is a one-on-one peer-mentoring program. A number of work-study students and financial aid interns will serve as “peer-mentors,” providing coaching for students who have questions or concerns about how to best go about saving money while they are here at Eastern and living in the local community. Furthermore, students can receive more in-depth coaching from Toles himself if necessary.
The second major part of FLY is the management program. Toles expressed that this program is primarily centered around student loans and should appeal mostly to seniors. The program involves counseling for students on how to find the best loan repayment plan and how to incorporate loan repayment with a student’s money management plan.
Two things inspired the development of the program: “First,” Toles says, “the student loan debt amount is rising in this country. It’s a big topic right now.” For the second reason, Toles says he had placed a number of calls to Eastern alumni asking about their college experiences. He admitted many said they wished they had learned more about finance while in college. “We just wanted to make sure that Eastern students had the tools that they needed to have financial success,” says Toles. “We wanted to do something before the students left.”
For more information, contact Toles through the FLY Program at FLY@eastern.edu.