Empowering Students From Historically Marginalized Groups Through Financial Wellness Education

By Beth Maglione, NASFAA Executive Vice President

James Brooks, Associate Vice President for Student Services and Enrollment Management and Director of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Oregon

Dr. Gilbert Rogers, Assistant Director of Financial Wellness at the University of Oregon
Jennifer Bell, Director of Financial Aid at Webster University, formerly Associate Director for Advising in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon Financial Wellness Center (FWC) under the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships has been innovative and strategic in reaching groups traditionally less likely to receive financial education. Through their efforts, the center has been able to reach students for whom gaining financial education has the highest stakes by creating safe spaces for learning, investing in relationships, and by building a financial education program centered around inclusion.

Jennifer Bell, formerly the associate director for advising in the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships at the University of Oregon, reported on the critical need for adapting personal finance information to the needs of various groups that are historically minoritized — such as racial/ethinic minorities, first-generation college-goers, low-income students, LGBTQ students, and women.

Gilbert Rogers, assistant director of financial wellness at the University of Oregon, spoke about "following the research" as a key first step, noting "students from low-income schools were four times less likely [than the population at large] to have taken any personal finance education in high school."

Bell highlighted the importance of tailoring the programming to the audience. She recommended those focused on improving financial wellness among marginalized groups collaborate with campus partners already working with these populations, such as the TRIO program office, the career center, and multicultural and Black student centers.

The presenters also highlighted the importance of cultural competence education and the need for recruiting, hiring, and preparing peer financial coaches.

"It is essential that we train and prepare coaches to be successful, whether they are delivering a workshop or holding a one on one coaching session," Rogers said.

"You have to be creative in messaging to students how budgeting and finance matters to them, right now, and honor their identities when they come to you," Bell said. 

The Q&A discussion focused on meeting students where they are, and the need to take personal finance education to the gathering places that are comfortable for students — those mentioned above, and additional student gathering places, such as sororities and fraternities.


Publication Date: 6/27/2022

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