Indiana University to host national summit on student financial wellness

  • June 25, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- More than 200 college and university staff members from across the U.S. will be at Indiana University Bloomington next week to share and discuss ideas about helping students manage finances and avoid excessive debt and other money problems.

IU Bloomington is hosting the second National Summit on Collegiate Financial Wellness, a three-day conference that features talks by national experts, workshops and breakout sessions on financial literacy and what institutions of higher education can do to promote it.

The initial summit took place in 2014 at the Ohio State University, with planning by staff at IU and Ohio State. This year’s meeting will be Sunday through Tuesday, June 28 to 30, at the Indiana Memorial Union.

“We have great keynote speakers scheduled, and this is also an opportunity to network with others who are working on this topic on a daily basis,” said Phil Schuman, IU director of financial literacy and co-chair of the summit. “The event continues to grow as more higher education institutions place an increased emphasis on financial wellness.”

MaryFrances McCourt, Indiana University senior vice president and chief financial officer, will be one of three keynote speakers for the summit, speaking about the importance of financial wellness initiatives and what university administrators can do to support them. Other keynote speakers are:

  • Tahara K. Hira, senior policy adviser to the president of Iowa State University and a professor of personal finance and consumer economics at the university. She is internationally known as a leader in the field of personal finance and has taught and conducted research on family financial management, investing, consumer credit, gambling and consumer bankruptcy.
  • Lewis Mandell, professor emeritus of finance and managerial economics and former dean of business at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Widely recognized as a founder of the field of financial literacy, he has taught courses in various disciplines and has written 22 books, mostly related to the economic, financial and investment behavior of consumers.

Indiana University launched its Office of Financial Literacy in 2012 in an effort to assist students in making informed financial decisions before, during and after college. Its MoneySmarts initiative includes for-credit courses, peer-to-peer advising, an interactive website and a podcast series titled “How Not to Move Back In With Your Parents,” all designed to encourage better financial decision-making.

The program is credited with reducing debt for IU students by $31 million, or 12 percent, in one year. In March 2015, it was recognized as a Model of Excellence by University Business magazine; IU was one of 11 colleges and universities honored by the publication.

With increased national attention paid to student debt, IU and other universities have moved their focus beyond financial competence to financial wellness, a holistic concept that recognizes how students’ financial circumstances connect with their academic, personal and social well-being. Schuman said university staff spend considerable effort in breaking through society’s taboo against talking about money and persuading students to think seriously about the subject.

“The goal is trying to take finance -- an often dull, boring topic -- and find ways to make it more appealing and engaging so students are willing to pay attention,” he said.

Related Links