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University News

Grant to Fund Program to Increase Student Financial Savvy


From Dateline (November 20, 2003)

Financing a college degree is not just about writing a check – and as many parents and their children learn, there are pitfalls for college students when they open a bank account, finance a car or use a credit card.

As the parent of two college graduates, Elahe Amani saw first-hand how even the most responsible student can get caught up in the marketing and hype about easy money.

“How to handle money has really not been addressed in the K-12 education system,” Amani, director of student financial services, says with regret. “Everywhere you go, you’re hit with the temptation of easy credit. When students come to campus, they are offered credit cards with limits of $1,000 to $1,500 – suddenly they ‘seem’ to have lots of money. And then the fall: they enter a cycle of paying minimum balances and incur ongoing financial fees that amount to more than they spent in the first place.

“Young people need to build wisdom and knowledge on how to resist this easy cash, easy credit bombardment.”

With $40,000 in first-year funding from EdFund, a student loan guarantee service provider, Amani is developing ways to educate Cal State Fullerton students in personal financial management. In the planning stages are a variety of materials on such aspects of finance as credit card and check use and identity protection. Amani is hoping to work with other areas of campus, such as financial aid, as partners in the effort. The goal is to deliver the information through seminars, CDs and a Web site and launch the program at New Student Orientation sessions for freshmen entering Cal State Fullerton in fall 2004.

With second- and third-year funding, the goal will be to increase the reach of the program to transfer students, upper classmen and eventually, to high school and community college students from institutions with high numbers of students who enroll at CSUF.

“We want to draw attention to the need for better planning and setting limits,” says Amani. “Our long-term goal is to establish relationships with students that are mutually beneficial and sustainable throughout their academic career and ensure that they have the skills necessary to allow them to succeed as well with their personal finances as they will in their academic pursuits.”

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