In light of multi-billion-dollar student loan debt nationally, a new Texas law requires colleges to start providing students personal finance training next year, but Texas A&M University has been offering its students such a program – Money Wise Aggie – since 2005, with results that show the initiative is having a positive impact.
With the start of the new school year, Texas A&M officials are emphasizing the Money Wise Aggie and its resources to both new and continuing students, notes Mark Mielke, the Money Wise Aggie Program Coordinator.
Last year, Money Wise Aggie presented over 120 workshops across campus, reaching more than 4,700 students — a 100 percent increase in workshop attendance since 2010. The program’s positive impact on students’ personal finance decisions is evident in the university’s below-average student loan debt and default rate, university officials note. The average loan amount undergraduate students borrow to attend Texas A&M is $22,600, compared to the $25,250 national average. Texas A&M’s 2009 default rate was 3.4percent, well below the national average of 8.8percent.
“I am easily confused in financial matters as there is so much information available,” describes a workshop attendee, “but you’ve helped me understand and have motivated me to seriously consider my finances and how best to improve my situation.”
With the national student loan debt reaching over $867 billion and an average credit card debt of $3,173 for undergraduate students, university officials emphasize financial literacy serves an important purpose on college campuses. A recent study has found that Texas ranks among the bottom 15 states in financial literacy and financial behavior.
Money Wise Aggie is doing its part to educate students through its free workshops taught by advisors that have earned either the Certified Financial Planner™ or Accredited Financial Counselor designation, officials note. Workshops cover topics including money management, saving and investing, credit cards, credit scores and buying big-ticket items. Advisors also meet with students one-on-one to provide personalized financial guidance free of charge.
Media contact: Lane Stephenson, News & Information Services at (979) 845-4662