John Daniels’ job is to focus on Mississippi State University students, and provide them with the tools they need to manage their money wisely.
His vision goes well beyond the campus.
“My goal is to reach the entire student body and go beyond, touching our alumni and students’ parents,” said Daniels, the first Financial Literacy Coordinator at the university.
To do just that, Mississippi State has teamed with Regions Bank and EVERFI to provide free financial education to all MSU students. Regions provides support through expertise and volunteers while EVERFI, a nationally renowned education technology company, provides Transit – Financial Wellness, an online learning program that can be used anywhere with access to internet.
During the 2016-17 school year, Mississippi State had 8,455 students participate in Transit. That’s the highest participation of any campus Regions sponsors. Incoming freshmen and transfer students are required to take the course.
“Regions has a company-wide commitment to support financial education programs – especially those impacting young people,” said Joye Hehn, Community Financial Education Manager for Regions Bank. “We are thrilled with the success MSU experienced in its first year using Transit because having the skills to successfully manage your finances can be a real gamechanger for these collegians, now and in the future.”
For Daniels, financial education is necessary to ensure that Mississippi State students are prepared for life beyond the campus walls. As for his job, it was created out of the need to address the rising cost of academics.
“Mississippi State University saw the nation-wide amount of increasing student debt,” Daniels explained. “They decided it would great to have someone full-time addressing those needs.”
C.W. Estoff, EVERFi’s Senior Vice President for Customer Success-Higher Education, understands what Daniels wants to accomplish because of his own experience in college administration.
He also understands the need for corporate support.
“We’ve been a partner with Regions since 2010,” Estoff said, “and we’ve seen exponential growth. Think about the lives we’ve changed together.”
Welcome to Bulldogs Doing More.
Sitting in front of close to 100 Mississippi State students interested in learning more about financial education, junior Kirsten Haynes speaks to them from experience.
What lessons can she pass on?
“A budget isn’t necessarily about being strict with your money, but it’s about keeping up with your money,” Haynes said.
Tyler McMurray, a junior and the Student Association President, shares a little of what she has learned: “The biggest thing for me was learning that instant gratification isn’t satisfying,” she said.
The students are greeted by Athletic Director John Cohen, Mississippi State’s former baseball coach. He explains why the university makes financial education a priority – it’s about investing.
Cohen explained that investment is not merely a financial term. It’s about time and effort for a common goal.
“The guys you watch on the field, the girls you watched play for a (basketball) national championship, they are invested and they’ve been invested a long time. They’ve invested in their skills and in each other,” Cohen said.
“Investment is about something bigger than yourself,” Cohen added. “What will you invest in?”
By offering this critical education, Mississippi State, Regions and EVERFI are investing into futures in Starkville and beyond. Regions provided EVERFI’s online financial education courses to 15 colleges and universities across its 15-state footprint. In all, more than 18,000 students participated. Nationally, EVERFI’s courses impact more than 100,000 students each year.
Daniels sees Mississippi State increasing their investment in the financial future of its students, faculty and families.
“I spent four years in the community teaching adults financial literacy,” Daniels explained. “They’d always say, ‘If I’d only know this when I was 18.’ Now we have the opportunity to teach these students as they start.”
Thanks to Mississippi State’s campus-wide financial education program, he’s seeing students – many who arrived on campus unbanked and with little knowledge of money matters – grasp concepts that will enrich their lives as they go into the working world.
“To see the light go off on people’s faces, to see them a year later saying, ‘I’ve paid off my debt,’ it’s exciting and it’s very encouraging,” Daniels said.
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