A college education can provide many benefits, including preparing students to face real-world challenges. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, students have a new resource that will positively impact their futures.
Recognizing the impact of the pandemic on campus, Auburn University’s Student Government Association (SGA) conducted a survey that found 80% of undergrads did not have an emergency fund or savings account, while 76% were financially impacted by the pandemic. The findings prompted action.
Months of work by a group of committed student leaders and the Auburn administration resulted in the school partnering with Regions Bank to provide a customized education program with resources to help alleviate financial concerns caused by the pandemic, and to proactively aid students in making wise financial decisions essential for success. Regions Bank’s financial education program, Regions Next Step, will deliver a holistic, campus-wide wellness program to take the guesswork out of preparing for the future.
“We are proud to bring the Regions Next Step financial literacy program to Auburn University’s student body,” said Mark Senter, experiential and sponsorship marketing specialist at Regions. “Our objective is to provide students with the guidance they need to reach their short- and long-term financial goals.”
Next Step will provide Auburn students, as well as faculty, staff and alumni, with on-demand, mobile-friendly learning courses, podcasts, interactive scenario planning guided by Regions associates, as well as in-person and virtual seminars from Regions and renowned financial authorities. Age-appropriate student curriculum has been curated to address financial needs as they evolve. In addition, special Next Step programming will be available for faculty, staff and alumni.
“I am so proud of this university for their continued work to support each student in every facet of life,” said Caroline Willoughby, 2020-21 Auburn SGA Treasurer. “This initiative is the perfect demonstration of how much Auburn cares for the individual student. I look forward to the positive impact this has on students for years to come!”
This program kicked-off in October 2020 with a virtual seminar on the financial impact of COVID-19, led by Eric Smith. Known as the “financial literacy coach,” Smith has taught money management skills to more than 125,000 college students, thousands of professional athletes and corporate employee groups.
“It was so exciting to see the hard work come to fruition in our first student seminar with Eric Smith,” Willoughby said. “The program was fun, upbeat and educating for all of the students attending.”
Upcoming seminars will reinforce the knowledge and skills gained through the interactive online platforms, such as Regions’ Next Step Financial Learning Center, where students can complete curated courses and activities specific to their financial needs and goals. Students will also have access to Next Step Reality Check, where they are assigned a persona and allowed to walk through real-world financial scenarios. With the goal of completing the exercise with a budget surplus, the interactive scenario shows how students’ money choices can have significant short- and long-term impacts.
“Auburn strives to prepare our students for success academically and personally, and financial literacy is key to that success. By working with Regions, we are arming students with the knowledge they need to make smart, informed choices that form crucial habits before they graduate,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Bill Hardgrave. “We are grateful to Regions for sharing their expertise and taking a vested interest in our students’ futures.”
To learn more about Auburn’s partnership with Regions, visit aub.ie/financial-wellness.