Emerson students get a feel for finance

by Katy Rushlau / Beacon Staff • September 13, 2012

Students like sophomore Rebecca Contreras often feel the burden of saving their pennies, only to throw them away for a night on the town or dinner with friends. 

According to the political communication major, socializing can be a huge hindrance on managing and saving money.

 “It’s easy to save money on necessities. You can buy the cheaper shampoo, or cereal without much struggle,” said Contreras. “But as soon as a friend asks you to go out to dinner, go clubbing, or buy some beverages for a party, all those savings go out the window.”

 But Emerson’s new financial education program will encourage students to “get on the money” and learn the basics of saving, loans, and investing.  

 Money Matters was formed to empower and educate students to become financially literate, according to MJ Knoll-Finn, the vice president of enrollment who helped bring the program to campus. Set to launch for students on Sept. 27, Money Matters will teach students about personal finance, identity theft, and establishing good credit.

 The different components of this extracurricular program include on-campus events, one-on-one counseling, and an online dashboard that will allow students to individually structure a schedule to fit their needs and concerns, said Knoll-Finn. The online program is tailored to educate student-specific needs while the other elements focus on a range of financial topics from saving to investing.  

 “It is a dynamic [program],” said Knoll-Finn in an email. “It gives students the interactive tools to help make them financially savvy.”

 Money Matters coordinators also partnered with the American Student Association (ASA) to provide SALT, the online component. 

SALT, according to Campus Engagement and Education Consultant Joanne Dashiell, is a comprehensive education and debt management program that offers main resources to 100 schools across the country. 

ASA launched the program in December 2011, according to Dashiell. She said SALT stands for “salarium argentum” or “salt money,” the original form of currency used by the Romans.

The hope for this interactice portion of Money Matters is to encourage students to want to manage their own finances by creating something instantly rewarding, easy-to-use, and fun, she said.

Dashielle said that SALT includes an online dashboard that allows users to keep track of student loans; get loan advice; look for jobs, internships, and scholarships; and learn to save money wisely.

 ASA’s main goal according to the Director of Corporate Public Relations Allesandra Lanza, is to help students become financially independent and intelligent before they graduate.

 “We really want to help [students] build skills for life so they have a good foundation to make [financial] decisions down the road,” said Lanza. “When it comes time to repay those student loans, we want students to be more money savvy.”

 According to Lanza, college is the first time that some students have to manage money on their own.

Dashiell said she wanted educational finances to be an important part of the lesson.

  “The idea is to really help students learn the best ways to pay for their education moving forward,” said Dashiell.

 Many schools, Dashiell said, are using SALT in a variety of ways from hosting financial wellness weeks to incorporating a financial literacy month.

 Abagael McCauley, a sophomore marketing and political communication double major, said it is crucial to educate students to better prepare them for the world beyond graduation.

 “So much of the stress that is put on college students and recent graduates relates back to money and financial literacy,” said McCauley. “This is an ideal way for the college to better prepare students for the realities of post-graduation life.”

 Those wishing to participate in Money Matters can register through eCommon or go to the Student Service Center for information, according to Knoll-Finn. She said individual appointments can be requested on Emerson’s website.

 Lanza said that she hopes programs like Money Matters will encourage students to take control of their financial situations as soon as possible.

“We hear a lot of feedback from students who say, ‘I don’t know this’ and, ‘I don’t know that’ ... ” said Lanza. “We don’t want people to say, ‘No’ anymore. We want people to be better informed.”