When students strike out on their own for college

When students strike out on their own for college

When students strike out on their own for college, it is often the first time any of them need to manage their own finances. Bad decisions and bad budgeting can quickly harm a student’s short- and long-term finances. Purdue University partnered with Purdue Federal Credit Union to create Boiler Financial Track, a network of people and resources that helps students build the skills they need to become financially secure.

“Our goal is to promote financial wellness, which is about having a healthy view of money and having good financial habits,” said Junia McDole, Assistant Director at Boiler Financial Track. “To be financially well, you need to build a strong financial foundation that includes managing your day-to-day expenses and making decisions with confidence.”

It is rare for students to learn important financial knowledge in classrooms prior to college. Budgeting, credit, insurance, and taxes are often total mysteries until students run into them during their daily lives.

“I’ve met a ton of students who tell me that their parents just paid for everything, so they never really had to budget,” McDole said. “I tell them that’s ok. We start from square one and move forward.”

Boiler Financial Track also offers peer-educator coaches, all of whom are interns in the financial planning counseling program. Students can meet with their peers for whatever advice they need.

“The more personable and relatable we can make your experience, the better,” McDole said. “Everyone makes financial mistakes. You’re never going to have a perfect budget, and if you do, I want to meet you!”

Personal consultation is just one way the program helps students. The Boiler Financial Track website, powered by Purdue Federal Credit Union, includes a free financial wellness course and a library full of information called Banzai Interactive. On it, students can learn about a variety of topics such as borrowing and credit, 401(k)s, and savings accounts.

Boiler Financial Track is just more than a year old, and is already producing great results. “It’s gone really well,” said Evelyn Royer, Vice President Operations at Purdue Federal Credit Union. “Junia has done a phenomenal job engaging the Purdue community. In just a year, she's successfully incorporated Boiler Financial Track into New Student Orientation."

McDole said that feedback from students has been positive, and many come back for multiple visits to learn about more topics.

“The biggest confidence boost for me is when they make another appointment,” she said. “I just want students to know that finances are so important. They will be around for the rest of your life. If you don’t have a strong foundation, or at least some healthy habits, it’ll be difficult to maintain financial wellness throughout your life.”

To learn more about Boiler Financial Track, to make an appointment, or to access their full resource library, visit www.purduefed.com/boiler-financial-track/.