Financial Wellness at Penn will host a series of events, ranging from educational events to peer-counseling opportunities, to promote financial literacy during the spring semester.
Workshops for money resolutions and goal-setting will take place in January, followed by tax workshops and budgeting tips in February. Finally, events and pop-ups will occur around campus in celebration of National Credit Education month and National Financial Literacy month in March and April, respectively.
“This entire program has been created with the intent to help students understand how to navigate their financial experience, no matter how nuanced or complex,” Financial Wellness at Penn program manager and 2019 College graduate Lyndsi Burcham said. “Inevitably, finances are going to touch pretty much everything you do.”
Burcham hopes to educate undergraduate students about taxes and credit, helping them to improve their financial literacy. She said added that there will be several casual activities around campus with the goal of getting students thinking about their personal finances, such as an inflatable cash machine that students can step inside.
Financial Wellness at Penn's events will also discuss budgeting for the summer, as many students must work low-paying internships and jobs, guiding students on how they can apply for additional funding from Career Services and other offices at Penn to finance their summer activities.
Burcham recommends that students create individual appointments with Financial Wellness at Penn if they decide to apply for summer funding, as students are required to submit a budgeting outline that could be complex for first-time applicants to navigate.
“The number one thing I would recommend is for a student to schedule a counseling session to draft [a] budget,” Burcham said. “If a student comes in, we’re able to talk to them about what internships [they] are considering [and] how to map out costs for each of those options — cost of living, where to find a sublet, market research.”
Financial Wellness at Penn will also be offering support tailored toward graduate students. Because student loan repayments will resume on Jan. 1, there will be workshops that dive into debt management and handling loans.
Workshops are taught by undergraduate and graduate students who undergo a semester of training, also known as peer educators.
“We’re open to any questions,” Communications associate and College first-year Thomas Sharrock said. “All of our educators are ready to get into their personal experience. People often misconstrue financial wellness as trying to get rich, and it’s not about that. It’s about being comfortable with your financial situation."
In addition to individual appointments, students and student groups can request Financial Wellness at Penn to present specific workshops. Currently, there are workshops on goal-setting, budgeting, credit, debt management, and investing. These workshops will continue to run on a routine schedule throughout the spring semester.
Financial Wellness at Penn is a separate entity from the Penn Student Registration & Financial Services office. However, the two teams work closely together to optimize students’ experience with financial aid.
“We ... have no say in actual packages, but we can help you understand how financial aid works,” Burcham said. “Our goal is to make these things feel more approachable.”