Balancing act: New financial wellness program improves students’ financial literacy

The college experience brings education, memories and, quite possibly, bills. That’s why The University of Tulsa has enlisted the help of Gilbert Rogers, the inaugural director of student financial wellness, to advise students on money management, applying for loans and being financially sound after graduation.

Understanding the money

Rogers’ experience as a personal finance coach at Fort Knox in Kentucky inspired him to teach others about financial wellness. “It’s extremely important to provide the education to students so that they understand financial responsibilities and what life can look like managing student loans, having a family and balancing income,” he explained.

Rogers, who has a bachelor’s degree in finance and a doctorate in educational administration, conducted a study to learn more about how he could help individuals with their financial situations. Through his study, he surveyed various high schools in the Louisville, Kentucky, area to test their financial literacy. He specifically focused on high school seniors who were about to graduate. Rogers found that 33% of participants did not achieve a passing score on a basic financial literacy assessment.

According to a 2015 National Financial Capability Study, a great deal of student loan debt is often taken on by people who have little understanding of what they are signing up for in the first place. Many students feel uneasy and unsure, with 48% of student loan holders expressing concern about their ability to pay off their debt.

With experience in financial planning, banking and personal finance coaching, Rogers relocated with his family to join The University of Tulsa Student Success initiative. “I wanted some sort of career where I could work with individuals on personal financial education, counseling and planning,” he said.

What is financial wellness?

Rogers explained students can learn a lot from the banking and finance industry. A lack of financial literacy can lead to academic fatigue, emotional stress and health and relationship issues. “Financial wellness education is designed to properly prepare you for life’s financial situations. Taking the appropriate steps to plan for your future will help you to avoid stress related to personal finances,” Rogers said.

TU’s Financial Wellness program offers one-on-one counseling, budgeting, planning for life after college, understanding student loans, building and repairing credit, tips on car purchases, financial literacy tools and resources and much more.

“We are extremely pleased to add Gilbert to our team,” said TU President Gerard P. Clancy. “His expertise as a financial wellness resource helps students learn to create and manage a budget while on campus and prepare them to make sound financial decisions after graduation. College is an ideal environment for learning how to handle money and build for a prosperous future.

Students can meet with Rogers or another financial adviser by appointment.