How to Be a Savvy Saver

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Program helps students lay groundwork for financial success

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson

If you’re reading this, you’re literate—duh, right? But are you financially literate? If you’re like most college students, probably not, but that’s OK, because there’s a new program to help you get up to speed on this crucial life skill. It’s called Savē —pronounced “savvy”—and it’s a lifetime resource that’s free to Dickinson students and staff.

Led by Office of Financial Aid Assistant Director Rebecca Schreiber-Reis, Savē provides free training and advice through Salt, an online platform developed by the nonprofit-backed organization American Student Assistance (ASA). Students and staff members sign up to get free access to personalized online tools and courses, which they can take at their own pace, to learn about textbook and student-loan payments, credit scores, personal budgeting, tax preparation and more. And they can continue to use these online tools, free of charge, after graduation.

Complementing the Salt curriculum, Savē also will present on-campus events, co-organized by Office of Financial Aid staff and by trained student ambassadors. As they help spread news about the program and raise awareness about financial literacy, these student-leaders also help build a community of like-minded peers. 

“Many students are interested in budgeting, investing, and other financial topics, and by being a part of this program, I hope that I have an impact by informing people about these topics,” said Wesley Smith ’17 (policy management), who's busy coordinating a Savē lecture on investments, led by Qing Bai, assistant professor of international business & management, to enhance the online tools and courses. Other upcoming events include a faculty-led workshop and an on-campus film festival, featuring documentaries related to finance and finance history, and organized by Miray Kaplangi ’18 (international business & management, Russian), who’s brainstorming ways to use technology to help spread the word, beginning with a Savē blog, soon to come.

Because the program is self-directed and tailored to individual needs and interests, students can begin training at any stage of their undergrad careers. Ideally, they'd get involved early on, says Schreiber-Reis, who plans to incorporate financial education into Orientation and offers a step-by-step approach in line with the college’s four-year Dickinson Four program, which encourages students to focus on a new goal, each year. (Under that model, first-year students would take introductory SALT courses online and think about how they’d like to manage their money during the next four years. As they continue their financial educations during the next three years, they’d also gradually begin to think about near-future financial goals, such as planning for studying abroad, and then think about longer-range financial plans.)

It’s an important institutional resource, says Jackie Joyce ’19 (sociology, Spanish), a Dickinson Four enthusiast and Savē ambassador who’s quick to note that because Savē promotes economic sustainability, it’s a natural fit for Dickinson.

Kaplangi agrees. “I am excited to collaborate with other clubs and plan future events,” she says. “I think it is important to have the skills that this program offers.”

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Published March 24, 2017