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Why Colleges Need to Educate Students About Money

By collegemktgrp | December 13, 2019 | Universities

There have been more and more news reports in recent years about banks targeting college students with high-interest, costly student bank accounts. In many cases, those banks are spending a lot of money to get access to those students, often in the form of partnerships with colleges and universities.

Despite the risks, a banking partnership is usually a good thing for college students. It allows your school to create a special account type with a card that can be used at university facilities, like cafeterias, fitness centers, the bookstore, and more.

Plus, it makes for one less decision for freshmen to figure out on move-in weekend — a banking partnership means their new bank account is ready to go on day one.

But regardless of your school’s banking partnerships and the types of student accounts they offer, it’s important for your marketing department to take an active role in communicating the tenants of financial literacy to both the current and incoming members of your student body.

Why Universities Should Help Students with Financial Literacy

College students need a bank account, but many may be coming out of high school with very little knowledge of how to handle money, the intricacies of credit card interest rates, overdraft fees, budgeting, and more.

On top of that, they’ll need to understand the implications of the student loans they’re taking on to pay for school — it’d be nice if they learned about how those loans work before they take them out!

If your students can’t manage their finances and student debt, they’re more likely to drop out, lowering your graduation rate.

Studies also show that nearly 3/4 of all college students are stressed about their finances. And stressed students are less likely to perform well in class, lowering the average GPA of your students who do graduate. Plus, a stressed-out student body makes for a less-than-ideal campus environment.

So how can your university’s communications team help students with financial literacy? The short answer is to make it simple and make it easy — short, easy to understand messages in accessible places, like on social media.

Read on for our 5 tips for universities trying to help college students gain financial literacy.

Use Simple Reminders on the Right Platforms

Your students are busy trying to navigate college life and get passing grades at the same time. Finances are a concern, but often come after other problems — class, work, and their social life, to name a few.

When putting together content for your students, keep the information simple, and put it out on the platforms they engage with.

Think about your financial literacy marketing strategy as a series of gentle reminders with links to more thorough resources for those students who want to learn more.

Some examples might be:

1. An Instagram post of a series of graphics with the following text:

  • Slide 1: “Before you sign up for a credit card, ask these questions:”
  • Slide 2: “What’s the fine print say?”
  • Slide 3: “How does the interest rate compare to other credit cards? Will it go up in the future?”
  • Slide 4: “Why do I want a credit card? Do I really need one?”
  • Slide 5: Stats about rates of credit card debt and how much people end up paying.

2. A Facebook and YouTube video post with the description: “Have You Made Your Budget For this Semester? How to Do It In 10 Minutes!”

  • YouTube is one of the most popular platforms with current college students, so be sure to include this in your outreach strategy.
  • Facebook and YouTube are both excellent for longer videos.

3. A series of videos posted to Instagram Stories and Snapchat of your university students talking about how they deal with money.

  • Use a hashtag to encourage other students to share ideas for financial management.
  • College students are much more likely to listen to their peers than anyone else, so this sort of outreach can be very impactful.
  • Organize your Instagram Stories posts on this topic into a Highlight (titled something like “$ Tips”) that will always live at the top of your profile.

4. A blog post on your website about the best budgeting apps for college students

  • You can post a link to this blog on your Facebook page or Twitter feed

If you need resources for specific financial information to distill into your posts or to link to directly, our print arm Collegiate Parent has a helpful series on finances — read it here »

Offer Financial Information and Worksheets with Orientation & Move-In Materials

Social media is all the rage these days, and we don’t expect it to go anywhere anytime soon. But there’s still something to be said for good old-fashioned print.

During freshmen orientation and move-in weekend, you’re likely giving students a welcome bag with university-branded goodies, school information, and coupons to local restaurants.

This is great opportunity to distribute financial literacy materials. Tips on how to budget, save, pay off debt, red flags to look for with credit cards, student loans, and more are all game.

But don’t just print them on paper and hope they get read. Instead, print them up on fridge magnets, on the border of door calendars, on koozies, and on frisbees. These are fun pieces of swag college students like to use. And as a side effect, they’ll regularly see your reminders.

You might also include a one-page worksheet for students to make a spending budget for the semester. Incentivize them filling it out by offering a free food or soda voucher if they email or direct message you a photo of it.

Tell Students About Your Financial Literacy Resources

More than likely, your school already offers financial literary resources. If not, it’s time to start developing them.

One program idea could be a short 4 to 6-week course that meets once a week for all first-year students. The instructor of that course could also be an on-call financial counselor who’s available for one-on-one meetings, emails, video chats, or texts with students who are struggling with money and have financial stress.

For a lower bar of entry, your university can require incoming freshmen to complete an online financial literacy course before move-in weekend. And the good news is, you don’t have to develop your own — there are many existing courses out there you can access. Here’s a good starting place to some you might offer to students »

Whether your school already offers financial literacy resources or is just getting started, you need to make sure your students know about them!

Use messaging that makes it clear that financial stress is totally normal. For example, you could use our stat from earlier: “Stressed about money? You’re not alone! 70% of college students have financial stress. Schedule an appointment with our student financial counselor today. Don’t worry, it’s free.”

Communicate Financial Aid Opportunities

The less a student has to spend to go to college, the less financial stress they’re bound to face.

The best resource for financial aid in America is FAFSA. Many college students may not realize they could be eligible for low or even zero interest loans from FAFSA.

Some especially attractive loans are available to military families, high-achieving students, and more. Students can also apply for grants and scholarships with FAFSA.

You’ll also want to promote scholarships specific to your school, as well as scholarship search tools such as CareerOneStop.

Your communication of these resources should be going out early to newly accepted students so they can apply for loans, grants, and scholarships in advance of starting school.

An email newsletter is a good way to target new students. Another option is Instagram Highlights and YouTube and Facebook playlists specifically catered to financial resources for new students.

Promote Campus and Local Jobs

Want to help your students with financial stress? Connect them with jobs so they can supplement their income while they go to school.

Promote your school’s part-time job opportunities on all your social media platforms. And when your school hires students, be sure to provide them financial literacy resources so they can be responsible with their new income.

On top of promoting campus jobs, post about local job resources or specific listings that are good for college students. It’s ideal to promote employers with a long history of hiring college students and that understand the importance of helping them to balance school, work, and life.

Boost Your Outreach with College Marketing Group

Here at College Marketing Group, we have decades of experience in marketing to college students. We can help you with your financial literacy outreach efforts. But we can also do so much more.

We have a long history of helping universities boost enrollment, get more transfer students, and connect their soon-to-be graduates with potential employers.

If you’re ready to step up your university’s marketing efforts, look no further. Contact us today to learn more about how College Marketing Group can help you reach your marketing goals »


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