Indiana University financial literacy program earns national recognition

  • March 30, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- MoneySmarts, a three-year-old Indiana University initiative that helps students make better decisions about borrowing and spending, has been recognized as a Model of Excellence by University Business magazine.

IU is one of 11 colleges and universities honored by the publication for having implemented innovative and effective programs at a time when institutions and their leaders are increasingly being held accountable for student success.

Phil Schuman, IU director of financial literacy, said the recognition validates the importance of the program as his office continues to seek out and develop best practices for helping students.

“We are honored to have IU MoneySmarts recognized as a Model of Excellence by University Business magazine,” he said. “We are extremely proud of what the program has accomplished in its first few years and look forward to continuing to provide unique financial education opportunities for students in the years to come.”

IU established MoneySmarts in 2012 to help students make informed financial decisions and avoid excessive debt. A university-wide program serving seven IU campuses, it includes an interactive website, one-on-one financial education by student peers, an online module for incoming students, workshops, classes and a weekly podcast series. Students, classes and organizations can also request one-on-one appointments and group presentations with the IU MoneySmarts Team, a group of students at IU Bloomington who have been trained to provide financial education to their peers.

IU’s financial literacy efforts are also responsible for students receiving letters from the university twice a year updating them on how much they have borrowed and what it will take to repay the loans. In an early success story, college debt for students across all IU campuses declined by 12 percent, or $31 million, from 2013 to 2014. MoneySmarts is a program of the IU Office of the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer.

University Business recognized a range of public and private colleges and universities from across the country for projects aimed at bolstering student academic performance, achievement by minority students, adjustment to campus life and other aspects of student success. University Business is a publication targeted to higher education leaders at two-year and four-year colleges and universities, providing coverage of technology, finance, profiles and other news and features.

Schuman said a key to MoneySmarts’ effectiveness is that it takes an informal and student-centered approach, using lighthearted podcasts and brief lessons to make it easier to have difficult conversations about money. It also relies on research supporting the use of “just-in-time” information -- for example, a focus on taxes in April; on housing costs at a time when students are looking for apartments to rent; and on earning money at a time of year when students are looking for jobs and internships.

MoneySmarts has established partnerships with IU offices and community organizations, and staff members have given presentations on IU campuses and at student-services conferences and meetings across the country. In June, it will host the National Summit on Collegiate Financial Wellness at IU Bloomington.

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Phil Schuman and Morgan McMillan

Phil Schuman, right, IU director of student financial literacy, chats with assistant director Morgan McMillan.

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Media Contacts

Steve Hinnefeld