To be holistic, a financial wellness program should address the needs of your students. In today’s diverse educational system, students have unique needs based on their life stage. For instance, younger students, ages 18-20, are concerned about being tempted to buy things they don’t need (35%), while older college students, ages 23-24, are much more likely to have a wide variety of debt1.

Unfortunately, financial stress is a big problem. The Ohio State University’s 2015 National Student Financial Wellness Study2 found the following:

  • 70% of college students feel financial stress
  • 60% worry about paying for school
  • 50% worry about monthly expenses

And it’s not just a problem for students. Educational institutions have to deal with another statistic. Nearly one-third of those stressed by finances, do not follow through with assignments, often leading to failed classes or dropping out of school.  For more compelling stats, check out our comprehensive “Financial Literacy Study Compilation.”

This is why it is important to have a holistic financial wellness program for your students. Such a program will have these six important components.

Interactive Budgeting Tool

Budgeting is central to financial wellness. It is the plan that helps your students know where to spend their money and how to prioritize financial aspects that are important to them. An interactive tool is one that guides the student creating their budget.

The iGrad “Budget” tool helps your students determine where they are spending their money and allows them to see what happens to savings as they reduce their current spending. Students are guided to include all types of income and expenses and can add goals and investments. Best of all, the budgeting tool saves all the information so the student can continue to use and make adjustments to their budget.  

Student Loan Tool

Among all demographics and age groups, student loan debt is now the second highest consumer debt category. It is even higher than auto loans and credit card debt. Make Lemonade consolidated statistics from The New York Federal Reserve Credit Panel/Equifax, The Institute For College Access and Success, National Student Loan Data System, Mark Kantrowitz, Federal Student Aid, and FedLoan Servicing and found the following:

  • 44.2 million borrowers have student loan debt
  • Student loan debt is now $1.52 trillion in the US
  • The average student has nearly $40,000 in student debt when graduating
  •  The current default rate is 10.7%

Based on these numbers, a holistic financial wellness program should include student loan information. iGrad’s Student Loan Snapshot Tool will help students understand how much they owe, whether taking a particular student loan makes sense, and the best way to repay the loans.

Gamification

Gamification is simply the application of game features to non-game activities. These features include things such as:

  • Badges
  • Monthly challenges
  • Interactive games

Games have been shown to be a powerful motivator. In fact, 51% of consumers say that gamifying everyday activities would make them pay more attention to them. And statistics show that gamification increases engagement metrics by 100% or more.

iGrad uses gamification to provide students with rewards based on their participation and activity. We have integrated a Rewards API into or platform, which allows universities to reward users for completing exercises and scoring high on assessments.

In addition to actual financial wellness games, we include several layers of gamification on our platform including:

  • Monthly challenges which enter users into a contest to win a $250 gift card
  • Rewards system which gives points for actions on the platform, enabling the users to advance levels and win rewards

By gamifying financial wellness goals, iGrad helps students make better financial choices.  

Social or Peer-to-Peer Tools

Social and peer-to-peer learning is effective because your students share similar experiences. Because they understand one another’s issues, they can often provide answers to immediate financial wellness questions. In many cases, your students will trust a peer who has had the same issue before trusting someone in a leadership position. In general, your students will be more comfortable with peer and social learning situations than traditional environments.   

Additionally, social and peer-to-peer tools are rooted in social cognitive theory, which states that people change more readily when engaging in social interaction. The iGrad Community Section allows students to ask and answer common questions posed by their peers. They can ask questions, anonymously if they choose, about things like getting out of debt, finding the right student loans, or getting the right credit card.
iGrad data has shown that users who engaged with the community peer-to-peer tool:

  • Came back at a rate 400% higher than other users
  • Consumed content at a rate 800% higher than other users
  • Scored 3 to 6% higher on assessments than other users

Live Counselors

A financial counselor can help your students assess their needs and achieve their goals such as:

  • Retirement planning
  • Investing
  • Taxes
  • Stock options
  • Handling major life events
  • And more

iGrad’s team of Certified Personal Finance Counselors are all in-house experts. Because they are not part of a branded financial product, your students can rest assured that all information is based on student needs and not advisor bias.

Interactive Educational Courses

Finally, a holistic plan should offer interactive educational courses. These courses can cover a broad range of topics that appeal to the unique needs of your students and employ the idea of stages of change by helping people transition from change to action in small steps.  

iGrad offers courses in home buying and mortgages, credit scores, student loan borrowing, financing healthcare, protecting yourself from identity theft, retirement planning, and more. Each course results in a personalized action plan for the user, detailing specific steps they can take to improve their situation in the area of the course topic.

To see everything the iGrad Financial Wellness Program offers, check out our demo video here.

 

Sources

Sallie Mae – Majoring in Money report

Ohio State University 2015 National Student Financial Wellness Study

3 Make Lemonade Student Loan Debt Statistics For 2019