Whether you like the word "synergy" or not, there's truth to the sum of all parts being greater than the whole—at least when it comes to tackling financial literacy. Businesses and campuses working together can produce creative solutions and successful events. And, even on your campus, collaborating with other departments is key.
Renola Swoboda and other members of the Wisconsin Coalition on Student Loan Debt, Inc.
A Wisconsin coalition that won the 2017 Governor's Financial Literacy Award for Innovation proved that synergy is a real thing when they banded together to kick off a creative collaboration in 2017.
Collaborating for Impact
Working together, a group of community leaders created the Wisconsin Coalition on Student Loan Debt, Inc. to share their financial literacy expertise and embolden students with knowledge to empower financial wellness. Using a blend of hands–on and digital programs behind #Wimoneysmarts, the coalition was able to reach a total of 962,000 students during a one–week period—and target specific demographics—in its fledgling year.
Creating an Event and Online Presence
The coalition hosted a free student loan repayment event on a Saturday in April 2017. Financial counselors and servicers were available to help guide students through the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) to retrieve loan balances and provide information about repayment plans and consolidation to students. In its inaugural year, 19 students got one–on–one assistance at the event.
The collection of business leaders, educators, teachers, and state agencies also created and distributed social media content with the help of Great Lakes Senior Social Media Specialist Renola Swoboda. Great Lakes employees Beth Erickson, Benjamin Lee, Debbie Murphy, and Rebecca Rapp were also involved in the statewide effort, which could be replicated in other states or expanded to serve larger audiences.
Getting Started on Your Campus
Combining efforts with other departments on your campus can really help increase the positive impact on your students' financial futures. Federal Student Aid's (FSA's) Financial Aid Toolkit is a good place to start for curriculum ideas—and to help you identify others on campus who want to share this information. There are also free financial wellness resources that can help you keep your costs down.
GradReady®, Great Lakes' online financial wellness curriculum, is a game–changer when it comes to helping students succeed. It provides personalized, engaging education to help shape their behavior for a lifetime of financial health. Check out our demo website for a self-guided tour.
Ask your peers at other campuses about financial literacy month events and activities that have worked well for them. You may want to check out Great Lakes' Guiding Students to Financial Wellness: A Collection of Case Studies for other ideas and best practices. You'll also find numerous free SmartSessions™ webinar trainings specifically focused on improving financial literacy efforts. In particular, hear a guest presenter from the University of Central Florida speak about their financial literacy program in Cast the Net: Increasing Student Engagement with Financial Literacy. Or, check out these SmartSessions webinars: