One Stop expands financial resources

Resources include new counseling and online materials.

by Max Chao

As part of a push to improve students’ fiscal responsibility, the University of Minnesota is expanding its financial education resources.

Counselors at One Stop Student Services recently completed training and added online resources to help students develop financial skills. A 2017 study showed high levels of financial stress lead to higher chances of dropping out in college students.

“A lot of our students are suffering from a lot of financial challenges,” said Sarah Barrett, assistant director of the Office of Student Life at Kansas State University and secondary author on the study.

The new training prepared counselors to talk to students about financial topics like loan repayment, mortgages, credit cards and identity theft.

“It better prepares us as counselors to be able to advise students on a day-to-day basis,” said One Stop Counselor Kristin Hummel.

One Stop’s Director Julie Selander said personal finance is not required to be taught in Minnesota high schools and many parents are uncomfortable teaching finance to their children, which contributes to a lack of knowledge from some students.

Selander said the efforts to improve students’ financial responsibility is part of a recent push by the office. A year ago, it started offering one-on-one financial wellness counseling.

“The question is, ‘is it the responsibility of higher education [to teach personal finance?]’ I would say yes,” Selander said.

The new training was started about year ago, but all counselors weren’t fully certified until May, she said.

The months-long program is facilitated by Inceptia, a nonprofit education group, and includes online courses and in-person classes, Hummel said.

The program was chosen specifically for its focus on higher education, Selander said.

The student’s program is entirely voluntary and has had some participants, Selander said, but would like to see more.

According to Hummel, the appointments have had positive feedback, with participating students reporting a 99 percent approval rate.

Other resources are geared specifically towards helping international students. Incoming international students reported to One Stop that they were having trouble understanding financial literacy courses, Selander said.

One Stop is creating the resources with the International Student and Scholar Service, using funds from the International Student Academic Services Fee.

International students said unfamiliar terminology and foreign concepts — like bank accounts and qualifying for credit cards — were barriers to adapting to a new country, Selander said.

One Stop plans to create personalized workshops and videos for foreign students to help explain these concepts that will roll out in the fall, she said.