Riverland Community College hosts a spring passport event for students that focuses on financial education. For this two-hour event, students can visit stations of their choosing. Each station takes about ten minutes and focuses on a different topic: scholarships, budgeting, financial aid, and so on. Students receive a sticker at each station, and if they collected five or more stickers they were entered into a drawing for a gift card. This event is in its third year and continues to be a popular draw on campus. This year they even had the college president stop by.
In a truly collaborative effort, the event was sponsored by several departments on campus. Raven Newberry, CashCourse program manager, interviewed the team, which consisted of FYE instructors Betsy Goetz, Al Shuda, and Keith Cich; TRiO Director Chelsea Anderson, and Financial Aid Officer Krista Olson. Laurie Minehart, of the Riverland Foundation for Scholarships, also helped with this event but was unavailable for the interview.
Anderson explained how this partnership happened. She says, “Betsy did a great job of getting a lot of people and departments involved. We had so many departments involved that it was easy getting the word out. Plus offering gift cards and pizza really helps with student attendance.”
Riverland applied for funds through the CashCourse Reimbursement Program for Incentives, securing $500 in funds to go towards gift cards and pizza for this event. CashCourse was also used within the school’s FYE courses.
Goetz, an English and FYE instructor, explains, “For my First Year Experience course, I used CashCourse materials to cover credit. We went through the questions of ‘Be Credit Savvy’ and filled a whole day talking about credit practices. We also offer CashCourse courses as extra credit assignments for our FYE classes here at Riverland.”
Having students already thinking and talking about money management in their courses helped drum up interest in the event.
“The direct tie-in to our FYE classes was super helpful. This event was directly related to their course material, and that helped sparked interest,” says Cich.
The event was strategically planned for lunch; the team wanted to keep the event flexible for their busy students.
When asked for their advice for other schools, Shuda recommend the following: “Do an event during lunchtime with food, and keep it short. Let students know there are stations they can visit as they like, and be up front about the time expected.”
These tactics have helped build a very popular program with both students and staff.
“We really get positive, sincere student responses, as well as wonderful Riverland Community College staff support. Vice President Kelly McCalla initially encouraged faculty to apply for the CashCourse Reimbursement Program. We have had George Bass, Director of Business Services, and our college president, Dr. Adenuga Atewologun, attend our CashCourse event!” Goetz explains.
This focus on financial education has had a major impact on the campus. Besides creating a culture of financial wellness, the team believes they’ve seen major differences in their student body.
Olson says, “Riverland’s decision to include a financial literacy component in the First Year Experience has really given us the ability to reach more students. I personally appreciate the effort that Betsy has made to organize this event. It gives us the ability to go beyond using it in a classroom and to reach out to other students in need of financial education.”