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While many Penn students juggle academics, extracurricular activities and a social life, there is still one thing left for many to learn to balance - a checkbook.

With the importance of financial literacy - knowledge of how to manage a credit-card to how to create a budget, for example - growing each and every year, trend-setting colleges all over the nation are reaching out to their students and expanding the financial advising resources available to them.

Although other schools are creating formal mechanisms to reach out to students, Penn has not done so yet, according to representatives at Student Financial Services, the Student Federal Credit Union and Career Services.

Student Financial Aid Director Bill Schilling said SFS was looking for the best "medium" to reach out to students.

"If students are running into issues, they can certainly come talk to us," he said, citing the informal walk-in services currently provided.

But other schools seem to be ahead of the game.

Dorothy Durbard, an associate professor of Personal Financial Planning at Texas Tech University, started "Red to Black," a program that allows undergraduate and graduate personal finance students to train and counsel other Tech students about confidential money management issues-.

"We want to teach those life skills that every student uses," she said. "If schools aren't talking about financial education, then where are students getting it from?"

Started in 2001, the program is just one of the many ways that schools are increasing the financial counseling available, according to Durbard.

For its part, SFS will roll out an improved Web site in September with greater resources for personal finance issues, in addition to the other financial aid and finance resources already available.

Career Services annually holds a workshop open to all Penn students called "Real World Survival," a program aimed to advise graduating seniors that focuses on topics like employment benefits, insurance and loan consolidation. The workshop is one of the University's few efforts to increase students' financial literacy.

Career Services senior associate director and workshop coordinator Rosette Pyne said there is a lot in the workshop that would benefit Penn students of all ages, so the program may be held twice next year due to student interest.

Still, administrators and directors say a constant source of financial help would likely be beneficial to students.

Schilling pointed out that students may be hesitant or may be too busy to take advantage of such a service.

"It would be a great resource if it were used," he said.

He added that SFS was looking into what is successful at other schools first but "willing to explore anything."

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