The program will be run out of MSU's Office of Student Success in collaboration with Career & Internship Services, which combined see an average of 120 students daily for advising and career services. Whether they seek academic or career counseling, visiting students will now find that financial literacy is a component of the advising and coaching they receive.
As a part of the grant, MSU will contact students who are carrying significant debt and offer financial counseling.
"We are committed to aiding and educating students to ensure they understand and develop solid financial habits to make wise choices while attending school and beyond," said Carina Beck, director of Career, Internships and Student Employment Services. "President Waded Cruzado has committed MSU to the goal of reducing student debt and we are pleased to be implementing a program to help address this issue."
Cruzado testified before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee in July to highlight the mounting problem of debt faced by Montana college students in the wake of the recession.
Between 2007 and 2011, the average debt incurred by graduating students who borrow to pay for college rose 35.7 percent to $25,682. Sixty-six percent of all MSU graduates borrow.
Beck said the Office of Student Success would oversee the hiring and training of staff for a newly established a financial literacy office, which will work on program development and the database groundwork to identify at-risk students.
The office will implement a financial management program to educate incoming freshmen about the implications of the financial choices they may face; a communications campaign and intervention program aimed at students with a high-debt-to-potential-income ratio; and target financial education efforts at MSU's veterans and their families.
Among the eight Montana University System campuses receiving College Access Challenge Grant funding from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education, MSU's was the top award at $79,982.
"We appreciate your efforts to strengthen Montana's financial literacy programs and look forward to collaborating with you," wrote Ronald Muffick, director of Student Financial Services at OCHE, in the grant award letter.
Contact: Sepp Jannotta, firstname.lastname@example.org, (406) 994-7371.