The MoneySmarts website launched last fall with a mighty mission: to help students understand the cost of attending college, and to give them the budgeting tools and resources they need to make the most of it.
Created in partnership with the Office of Financial Literacy, the site is designed to protect students against the debt monster, a hand-drawn, fictional beast that symbolizes all-too-real challenges for students, such as student loan debt, credit cards, and cost of living.
The MoneySmarts site is just one effort to help students make informed financial decisions before, during, and after college. Since its inception in 2011, the Office of Financial Literacy has reduced student borrowing at IU by $126.4 million, and it has decreased student borrowing by 19% across all IU campuses.
The site is equipped with a custom calculator, online financial literacy courses, articles, podcasts, and the ability to schedule an appointment with a financial consultant.
MoneySmarts: 1, Debt Monster: 0
MoneySmarts has proven itself as a website that students actually use.
Since its launch, the MoneySmarts website has received 120,000 unique page views, as well as praise from IU students and parents, higher education peers, and design competitions across the nation.
The calculator, powered by custom databases to help students estimate their tuition, fees, and living expenses each semester, has been visited 510,787 times by 78,181 unique visitors.
Articles and podcasts have been accessed 54,414 times by 15,675 unique visitors. Here are the top five most popular articles and podcasts on the site:
- Which comes first: the savings account or the investments? (podcast)
- Pizza is not a food group: How to eat the moneysmart way (article)
- A crash course in building credit (article)
- Get a head start on life. Learn to budget. (article)
- Mo’ money, mo’ problems: how to balance school, life, and work (article)
MoneySmarts in the media
Shortly after the MoneySmarts site launched, the Wall Street Journal called Indiana University a “pioneer” in financial literacy campaigns.
Other colleges and universities have taken measures to reduce student debt, such as prohibiting students from using their campus IDs as credit cards for non-education purposes or offering incentives to students who pay bills on time.
As higher education institutions continue to rally around the idea of financial literacy, the prospect of lowering student debt nationwide is promising.
What are some other ways we can continue to help students fight the debt monster?