EWU wins grant promoting financial literacy

By Katie Dunn, Staff Writer

Eastern Washington University is one of 21 colleges across the United States to receive a Financial Literacy Counts grant from Higher One.

Higher One is a public company affiliated with The Bancorp Bank that administers refund management and payment services for over 1,900 colleges and universities. According to Higher One, this is the fourth time they have offered the Financial Literacy Counts grant, a program established to provide the means for increasing financial literacy and awareness in college students.

With the grant money, Eastern is proposing a four week project to educate students about basic budgeting, credit cards, managing debt and credit scores through workshops, training modules, guest speakers and presentations.

The program is called “Eagles who Save.”

“EWU did a great job of emphasizing the need for practical financial literacy knowledge and tips relevant to today’s college students, stressing the importance of reaching students right at the beginning of their college experience,” said Mary Johnson, financial literacy and student aid policy director at Higher One, through email. “The modules they proposed will be designed to be fun, engaging and interactive, with real life application. There will be extensive student participation in the development and implementation of the program, which is a key requirement for our grant program.”

The grant required a student-run organization’s participation, so Josh Ashcroft, chief housing officer at EWU, teamed up with the Residence Hall Association.

Bilal Badruddin, resident life coordinator, said that after considering all options RHA was chosen because they have access to all residents halls and over 2,000 members who can help with the program.

“At some point we’re all going to need a loan, and not just for school,” said Badruddin. “Students are going to get as much out of this program as they put into it.”

The grant gives Eastern a little over $3,000 for expenses including guest speakers, advertising, refreshments and prizes for events.

The program is spread out over four weeks with a break before the last two. Each week will have their own theme. The theme for the week of Sept. 29 was Budgeting 101.

First-year students are the target audience, but everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate.

“We know that often times students struggle with their finances and just understanding how to create budgets, how to live within their means, how to avoid credit card scams and identity theft,” said Ashcroft. “These are all things that sometimes happen to people who are going through credit cards for the first time.”

RHA’s role is still being decided, but for now they are providing behind-the-scenes support and are in charge of drawing interest for the events.

RHA also buys the prizes. Last week they spent $200 on an Eastern blanket, socks, binders and other school supplies. Shopping locally kept the money with EWU and the items with Eagle logos were to invoke school pride.

“We know that there is a need out there,” said Ashcroft. “Hopefully we’ll be able to find different ways to reach students on this topic because I think there have been attempts to provide financial education here in the past and the hard part is what’s the incentive to get students to see the value of it.”