Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Financial Literacy Series Educates, Prepares Students for Life After College

The Financial Literacy Series, led by the Center for Student Success, is an ongoing six-part series providing students with crucial financial knowledge. Running Feb. 13—March 19, the series aims to educate students on personal finance, both in the present and in preparation for life after college. 

The series covers topics like budgeting basics, different kinds of bank accounts, understanding how to build credit, managing credit cards, renting versus buying a house, responding to fraudulent charges, and more. 

Stemming from students’ desire to improve financial literacy, Director of Student Success Operations Amanda Shelnutt called upon a previous partnership with Achieve Credit Union to run the series. 

“Last year, we got some feedback from students saying they really wanted financial literacy programming,” Shelnutt said. “We had already done some work with the Achieve Credit Union through one of the [Learning Enhancement Across the Disciplines] Adulting classes, and we wanted to expand it outside of just the LEAD class and offer it to all students.” 

Providing free educational services to improve financial knowledge and literacy, Achieve Credit Union visits public libraries, high schools, and colleges and works with each institution to interpret their clientele’s needs.  

“[Achieve Credit Union] came in and brainstormed with us about what college students might need to start thinking about before they graduate,” Shelnutt said. “We framed it specifically coming from a mindset of starting a life as an adult. What do you need to know?”

College third-year Diane Lee, initially heard of the Financial Literacy Series from her friend, an Economics major, and has been a regular attendant. So far, her favorite meeting, “Building and Improving Credit,” discussed credit cards and credit scores. 

“Coming [to Oberlin], I was really happy at first because there aren’t any Starbucks or many franchises, so I don’t spend too much money,” Lee said. “I’ve been budgeting pretty well, but I think that, by going to these [meetings], I’ve become more self-aware of my budget and financial goals after graduating and while in college here.”

Financial Literacy Week, which occured Feb. 12—16, was led in conjunction with the Center for Student Success and Office of Financial Aid. The week kicked off the initial Financial Literacy Series meeting. 

In particular, Financial Literacy Week sought to create awareness and knowledge about student financial aid. In addition to introducing students to personal finance, the heavy partnership with the Financial Aid office highlighted the numerous financial wellness resources available at Oberlin.

Another primary goal of Financial Literacy Week was introducing students to Cash Course, a resource the Office of Financial Aid and CSS launched this semester. When accessing their Cash Course account, students gain access to a plethora of information regarding financial topics pertinent to their lives. 

Success Coaches are now prepared to aid students in navigating the potentially overwhelming information brought by the new Cash Course system. Each Success Coach is a certified financial educator through the National Financial Educators Council and can point students in the right direction.  

Assistant Dean of Student Success Amanda Fronek, another key player in the event organization, urged students to meet with CSS and their individual success coaches regarding ongoing financial literacy. 

“Finance isn’t our natural background, but we wanted to be at least able to be knowledgeable about it, and that’s why Cash Course is so helpful,” said Fronek. “[Success Coaches] don’t have to be the experts on every topic, but they know enough to be dangerous and connect students with the resources and understand what the students are talking and learning about. So many people don’t know that [finance] is a topic they can discuss, but they definitely can.”

Next year, CSS plans to condense the Achieve Credit Union series into shorter sessions taking place during Financial Literacy Week. Both Fronek and Shelnutt plan to work on expanding Financial Literacy Week to reach more students in the future. Furthermore, they hope to continue the open discussion of personal finance. 

“[Next year] we’re going to have at least three years of students who maybe got introduced to [Financial Literacy Events],” Fronek said. “How can we beef up the knowledge about that? How can we ensure our first-year students know about it? How can we get in the habit of saying ‘it’s okay to talk about these things and to plan and to know what’s going on with your finances and be interested in them?’”

Achieve Credit Union will continue hosting The Financial Literacy series for two more weeks. The final two meetings, “Fraud: How To Handle It If It Happens To You” and “Creating Your Own Budget Spreadsheet (in Terrell),” will occur March 12 and March 19 respectively.

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