A group of college students sit outside on steps.
A group of college students sit outside on steps.
Financial Health
August 11, 2015

Putting college freshmen on solid financial footing

Freshmen at Florida Gulf Coast University learn the basics of money management in Budgeting 101, an orientation session taught by Wells Fargo.

The transition from high school to college can be complicated. For one thing, it’s the first time many teens are confronted with day-to-day money management.

To teach these students about financial literacy, Wells Fargo has worked with Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers for three years to provide a Budgeting 101 session during freshman orientation. The session uses resources from Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking® curriculum and covers budgeting, building credit, and establishing a good banking relationship.

“Financial literacy is critical,” says Jorge Lopez, director of financial aid at the university. One example: When college students receive a significant amount of financial aid, it might seem to them like a large paycheck. So it can be a challenge to spread the aid out over an entire semester, he says.

“We hope to teach freshmen early about banking the right way and building credit so that when they graduate from college, their credit profile and banking relationship are enhanced,” says Monette Regis, Regional Banking district manager in Naples, Florida, who created the orientation session.

Learning about financial literacy is an ongoing process, and it is Student Financial Services’ job to guide students through the process, Jorge says. The office typically sees a spike in students visiting at the beginning of each semester, but students do not usually return for the remainder of the semester, he says.

“We don’t want students to be in a situation where they are so worried about finances that it affects their academic status,” Jorge says. “Budgeting 101 is a great tool to inform students and help them make better decisions financially. The Student Financial Services office is responsible for processing funds and providing tools for financial literacy. Working with groups like Wells Fargo is helping to accomplish that.”

About 1,500 freshmen have attended Budgeting 101 since it began three years ago. Students like Rachel Coulanges, a junior at the university, have benefitted from the session. She says balancing money as a freshman can be a struggle when facing expenses like dinners out and social activities.

“During my orientation two years ago, I attended Budgeting 101, and I am so grateful that I did,” Rachel says. “It gave me a realistic preview of what it was going to be like, coming to college and being on my own.”