Project Summary: Iowa State University

    The primary purpose of the proposed project is to provide opportunities for every Iowa State University undergraduate and graduate student to improve their knowledge of personal finance and to set and achieve at least one personal finance goal within the timeline of the project. A secondary objective is to enhance Iowa State University’s campus-wide financial literacy work, especially to graduate students, and gain institutional commitment to sustain those professional development opportunities that prove to be best practices.


    Project plan and activities:


    A significant number of undergraduate and graduate students will be engaged in the development, marketing, and implementation of a campus-wide financial literacy mobile or web-based game. Students will compete to develop a game which should engage students and lead to better financial behaviors. After a weekend “hackathon,” the winning game will be developed by a professional programmer, to make sure the infrastructure of the game is robust. Undergraduate and graduate student teams will pilot the game, which will be launched as a campus-wide competition.


    Games will be complemented by educational workshops on money management, degree financing, troubleshooting and prevention, long term planning, and ROI for undergraduate and graduate education, which will be embedded in the regular activities of existing student groups and organizations. Workshops will be tailored to meet the needs of the requesting student organization. The project will leverage these workshops beyond the Iowa State campus through the NSF-funded Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching and Learning (CIRTL) Network.


    Financial information and decision-making tools will be made available to all students via email, a blog hosted by a financial counseling expert, a new website, and social and mass media. Students may electively take a one-credit online class in personal finance, with topics in budgeting, credit and debt, employee benefits, and money management.


    Students will also have individualized, professional financial counseling on a one-to-one or small group basis, providing students a high level of engagement. Specific students will be targeted to receive further invitations for one-on-one counseling. Targeted students will include students who answered they were worried about meeting their monthly expenses in the survey of 1st year graduate students, as well as those in arrears on their university bill. Each face-to-face counseling session starts with an overall assessment of finances, sets a specific goal and then students are coached for six months. Coaching includes receiving follow-up calls, emails, or texts from the counselor to assess progress toward the goal.


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