"Students come up the Hill every day for classes during their college careers. We want to make sure they walk down it at graduation, too," said Leticia Gradington, director of the University of Kansas' Student Money Management Services.
Her offices’ role in that equation is helping students make sure financial woes don’t prevent them from graduating.
The SMMS, in its second semester of operation, is a service partially provided by the KU School of Business and four other groups that aims to help students manage their finances properly.
In a 410-student survey given in PRE 101 and JOUR 101 classes in fall 2010, 92 percent of students said they thought money management, credit/debit management, insurance, and saving and investing were important. In that same survey, students rated their level of understanding about the same four topics. The average understanding was 3.5 on a scale from one to six, with six meaning they completely understood the topic.
The SMMS has a five-person team of peer educators who are determined to increase the level of financial literacy on campus.
“I like using my skills to have a positive impact on my fellow students’ personal finances,” said peer educator and Master of Accounting student Mitch Knopp.
The peer educators, who are mainly business students, are available to help students with a range of financial topics, including: budget creation, cash management, and income saving, among others. All student consultations are confidential.
The office also gives financial workshops and presentations to groups on campus.
Gradington is a firm believer that knowledge is power, but only when that knowledge is put into action. “When they learn good financial principles and use the information to get financially independent – that is something to get excited about,” she said.
The SMMS is located on the third floor of the Kansas Union. More information about the SMMS can be found at money.ku.edu.