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Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Activities & Organizations

Financial literacy program to aid students during pandemic

UH staff members work to answer financial literacy questions students have during the pandemic | Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

UH staff members work to answer financial literacy questions students have during the pandemic. | Gerald Sastra/The Cougar

As students navigate thorny financial matters during a pandemic that has led to widespread unemployment and emergency grants from UH, the University’s financial literacy program is poised to help.

The program offers advice to students and alumni on subjects like establishing a budget, building and maintaining credit, the basics of banking and calculating college cost of attendance, among many other services.

Other tools and resources include a UH-specific semester budget worksheet, which walks first-time-in-college and transfer students through calculating college expenses and financial aid. The document also includes a few details on different payment plan options.

The financial literacy program has always operated by appointment. Students can call or email the office for advice, according to associate director of integrated enrollment services Tara Monson Tran.

Although there is no current financial literacy counselor, UH staff continues to advise students. A few students per week contact the financial literacy program with questions.

Monson Tran said the program anticipates increasing its campus impact through regular workshops and outreach. To date, it has partnered with multiple organizations in order to educate students on the importance of knowing how to properly manage their finances.

These organizations include Student Housing and Residential Life, the Urban Experience Program, the C.T. Bauer College of Business, the Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management and exploratory studies majors.

“Additionally, student organizations have reached out to request presentations,” Monson Tran said. “Our financial literacy counselor would work with each group to address specific needs of that group.”

The associated Money Matters Institute provides an intensive course for UH staff to become money mentors. This course consisted of in-person meetings, online quizzes and a group project before the pandemic, according to the Institute’s website.

“Think of it as financial literacy 101 prepping (the UH staff) with the basic knowledge to give students the answers they need,” the website said.

Recruitment for this course takes place through emails and word of mouth from current Money Mentors, Monson Tran said.

According to Monson Tran, the Money Matters Institute was founded in Fall 2018 and has operated every semester since with the exception of Spring 2020 due to COVID-19.

“We adjusted the course each semester based on the feedback from the previous cohort,” Monson Tran said. “The Money Matters Institute started as an 8-week course. We then modified it to a 6-week course in Fall 2019. We then offered a mini-mester 2-day option in the winter of 2019.”

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