Financial Literacy: Take charge of your money

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Creating and balancing a budget, managing credit cards, saving for a rainy day, applying for student loans — managing your money can be daunting without help. Penn State has a number of resources available to students, faculty and staff to help navigate these topics and build the skills necessary for healthy financial literacy.

Daad Rizk, manager of the Financial Literacy Center in Penn State Outreach and Online Education, says that the University is committed to providing members of the Penn State community with the resources needed to make informed decisions regarding money management.

“Financial literacy is a soft skill that we all need to learn in order to become savvy consumers. At Penn State, we are deliberate in providing the knowledge and skills needed by our students to build a future founded on the concept of financial security and freedom,” said Rizk, who received the Shirley Hendrick Award for service to adult learners in 2016 from the University.

“We want to help our students become confident in their abilities to make informed financial decisions that could affect the rest of their lives, such as graduating with a reasonable amount of student loan debt, and making a plan to pay it off comfortably,” she added. “We want them to learn the basics of financial literacy — especially the concepts of proper budgeting, managing credit card and other consumer debts, and saving and investing — but most importantly, reaching for a future life based on the concepts of financial security and freedom.”

In 2013, the Penn State Commission for Adult Learners sponsored the creation of the Penn State Financial Literacy website to promote financial literacy knowledge to students, parents, stakeholders and others in the Penn State community.

The center offers free, public, one-hour workshops on topics focusing on budgeting fundamentals, credit cards, student loans, debt management, back-to-school tips, financial clutter, and much more. “Money Counts: A Financial Literacy Series” is an umbrella program developed at Outreach and Online Education to house all the available workshops, webinars, and presentations.  Additional topics are presented from time to time, including finances for military personnel and special financial considerations for women. Workshops for 2017 are currently being planned; In the meantime, prior sessions and materials are archived and available for viewing on the website.

Penn State community individuals and groups also can request their own private financial literacy session, guest speaker, webinar, presentation or freshman seminar class session, through the website.

“Anyone at Penn State can request a private session,” said Rizk. “Faculty of any department and those who teach freshmen seminars have been requesting sessions for their classes. We also receive requests from departments for their staff, and from student clubs and organizations on campus for their members. We do a lot of professional development sessions and graduating senior sessions.”

The website also offers a number of links to financial resources — including budget, savings and repayment calculators; budget planners and loan information; retirement planning tools; finance tips; and much more.

Rizk said additional initiatives are in the works for the Financial Literacy program, including a set of online self-study modules. The first module, “Budgeting,” will be available in September, with future modules on credit card management and student loans currently under construction.

Penn State’s Student Financial Education Center (SFEC) offers peer-to-peer financial counseling to students by request. Administered by the Penn State University Libraries in partnership with the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), student volunteers are trained, tested, and advised by the Financial Literacy Center at Outreach and Online Education. The SFEC offers these one-on-one, personal finance sessions with students who have trained as peer educators in financial literacy, as well as an online, financial literacy resource guide.

Watch for additional, in-depth articles in this series in the coming months, as well as workshop announcements and website updates, designed to provide the necessary tools and resources to make informed decisions regarding money management and to help you aim for a lifetime of financial well-being.  

For more information about Penn State’s Financial Literacy program, visit https://financialliteracy.psu.edu/, and for additional questions, email finlit@psu.edu.

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Last Updated August 30, 2016