Talking about money and discussing finances and money management behavior is considered a taboo subject or even rude. Money and finance related myths and misconceptions abound. Sound financial education and incorporating financial literacy in education programs seems like an excellent strategy to get this crucial conversation started.
Talking about financial resources, habits, and other money management topics in a one-on-one environment provides a safe and comfortable space to connect, and talk through financial questions, hurdles, and plan for solutions.
Does your program deliver financial coaching in a one-on-one setting?
Can students access support services and more information related to financial aid and financial literacy with a partner organization?
Please share your experiences in delivering financial education in a counseling or advising setting. Are there specific tools and resources that you employ in your practice that you can share with this group.
Our Adult Basic Literacy Education program at Marywood University is funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and sponsored by the University. The program provides classroom teachers, a tutor supervisor, and volunteers who provide tutoring and case management for students. In the classroom, students will learn about currency and budgeting, but if they are struggling with daily living, they can request time with a Social Work intern who can help them with specific problems and make referrals to community services.
Since this is the first year ABLE is using Social Work interns in this manner, we haven't used a lot of resources yet because students are slow to realize they can ask for help. The tide is turning, though.
We begin discussing financial literacy in the new student orienation. I have been doing this for years in our program. I speak with the adult education students about financial aid and what it means right from the beginning. I also follow up with them throughout their stay with us. They really need to be made aware of what needs to be submitted and the standards that students need to follow concering FASFA today. It is imperative that they are well educated from the beginning. We have financial literacy workshops, financial aid workshops, and i sit down individually with students and fill out the FASFA. The only thing that is intimidating to them is going to our financial aid office. The feedback that I have received is that is scary to them. Waiting, or not knowing what financial aid is all about can make the difference in a sucessful transition into secondary education. It is all about making the transition sucessful and giving the student the necessary tools and information. Feedback from students is that they are very gratefull for the time that is taken with them. I even have students come back to me for assistance well into their college credit and PSAV programs. That is what I offer them and that is what I deliver.
I think it is great that you start off the money conversation right away and integrate the importance of filling out FAFSA from the orientation. Have you considered having staff from your local college's financial aid to come and do a class presentation for your students? This can get the students comfortable in reaching out to the same person at the Financial Aid office once they are enrolled in classes.
I am sure the students really appreciate your guidance even when they are in college. What is a PSAV program? Is there a particular topic in the financial literacy workshop that the students respond to as a strong need?
Thanks to all for the comments on this discussion! I agree with Andrew and Priyanka that it's important to start talking with students about FAFSA from the start. We talk about financial aid at orientation, and that's just the beginning.
Several years ago, our program began inviting a Financial Aid counselor from our college to visit our students twice per semester. The counselor hosts a FAFSA workshop for two hours (alternating 10:00 - noon and 5:00 - 7:00 pm) to help students navigate the FAFSA. As a transition counselor, I'm also available to help students fill out the FAFSA; however, the Financial Aid counselor from campus is more knowledgeable, especially for students with unusual circumstances or sticky situations. My co-worker, Linda, has a great story about helping a student with the financial aid application and asking the student, "Are you married?" The student replied, "Hmmmm. Sort of - it's very complicated." We're happy to have the support of a financial aid expert for the "it's complicated" responses.
A side benefit of the Financial Aid counselor coming to our site is she got to know our students and care about them; she has a heart for helping adult education students. When she retired, she began volunteering for program and recruited another FA counselor from campus to fill her shoes for the workshops. The new person has offered to come help our students with FAFSA monthly, which is great!
As Priyanka mentioned, it's helpful for students to know someone in the financial aid office before they start college. Many of our students are intimidated by campus - any contacts we can help them make before they start will reduce their anxiety, increase their comfort level, and boost their confidence.
One-on-one financial coaching is among the integral elements in the suite of offerings associated with financial literacy development. El Buen Samaritano is currently in the process of developing a one-on-one financial coaching program. Since financial literacy programs are a new area for us we have made a considerable investment in professional development to build internal capacity for programs such one-on-one financial coaching. Approximately 15 employees underwent four days of intensive financial coaching training by Burst for Prosperity. The purpose of this investment was to train our staff to begin thinking of the role financial security plays in the lives of El Buen Samaritano’s clients and how we can begin to integrate financial coaching services into our current programs as well as determine the best way to create new programming options.
More information about Burst for Prosperity’s financial coaching training can be found at: http://www.chs-wa.org/Burst/Strategic_Initiatives/Career_Pathways/Financial_Coaching_for_Prosperity.html
Can you share some insights about the training and if open or external resources and considerations were shared...
The training covered major topics such as Understanding the Financial Empowerment Framework, Building Coaching Skills, Engaging Clients in Financial Empowerment Relationships and Building Support in Your Agency for Financial Empowerment. Each participant received a resource binder that outlined the curriculum, a book that specifically dealt with building skills as a coach and access to an online library of worksheets that could be of use during one-on-one financial coaching. Each training day was broken down into two parts. The first part was spent reviewing the currciulum and learning the technical aspects of one-on-one financial caoaching. The second part was putting what we had learned into use by practicing various caoching scenarios. The majority of resources provided were directly tied to the training but they did provide a list of websites with useful information and tools which I've listed below.
I found the http://www.choosetosave.org/ballpark/ as a new and useful resource. The interactive PDFs are certainly attention grabbing.
The Federal Trade Commission's website is also an excellent resources for ABE and ESL students. The videos in the Consumer section can certainly be used in classroom to discuss scams and what rights consumers have. LINK - http://www.ftc.gov/news-events/audio-video/consumers
This resource from Univ. of Wisconsin - Best Practices for Financial Coaches - can be helpful to start the conversation with advisors and navigators as they begin to integrate financial literacy as part of their success coaching role with the students.
Are there other considerations to keep in mind in a one-on-one counseling situation?
I would like to draw your attention to this brief titled, Integration & Innovation: Lessons from Organizations Integrating Asset Building into Social Services.
This brief highlights the experiences of five organizations that participated in a six-month Learning Cluster as they worked to integrate services that strengthen the financial capability of their clients. through strategies developed to overcome early challenges to integrating financial services into their traditional programming. El Buen Samaritano is one of the five organizations profiled in this brief. Page 8 of the brief has a graphic on Startegies for Integrating Assest-Building Services, please take a look at the "wheel" of Referral, Partner and Do-It-Yourself. It also covers the advantages and disadvantages of each of these practices.
How do you provide wrap-around services like financial education? Does the "wheel" look similar or do you rely on Community Partners a lot more?
What is your money personality? This QUIZ from the Dept. of Health and Human Services website is a good conversation-starter in a one-on-one setting but especially in a classroom.
Maybe start with taking the quiz yourself...