July 21, 2022
Faculty, staff and students now have a new avenue to seek out financial literacy and positive money habits: The University of Houston has partnered with Our Money Matters (OMM) to offer the free access platform iGrad to the university community.
The platform empowers and supports participants to acquire personal finance knowledge and build those positive money habits through access to personalized educational material tailored to individual “money personalities.” A partnership between The HBCU Community Action Development Coalition and the Wells Fargo Foundation, Our Money Matters aims to build long-term economic opportunities for HBCU/MSI students through its educational opportunities and community programming.
Jose Martinez, financial literacy counselor for Integrated Enrollment Services, answers questions about this new platform and what it means for the UH campus community.
What is Our Money Matters and iGrad?
Our Money Matters is a partnership between The HBCU Community Action Development Coalition and the Wells Fargo Foundation. OMM aims to build long-term economic opportunities for HBCU/MSI students through its educational opportunities and community programming available for all students. Through our partnership with OMM, the University has gained access to the iGrad Financial Wellness Platform that empowers and supports participants to acquire knowledge, build habits, and to make effective personal finance throughout their lives.
Who is this new platform for?
While geared towards students, the educational resources available through the platform are open to all members of the university community including faculty and staff.
How did this partnership with HBCU and Wells Fargo come about?
We were not involved with the creation of OMM. OMM approached us back in April of this year. While the project was new, OMM wanted to build a partnership towards their goal of bridging the financial wealth gap by providing their resources to empower our campus community. The partnership was solidified over the summer as we aimed to launch the program during the Fall 2021 semester.
What can users find when they sign up for Our Money Matters?
Once you've created your account and logged in, it is recommended that you complete your personalized profile and money personality to have the platform personalize your educational experience. You may follow the recommended order the platform sets for your personalized account, or you can explore the various financial wellness topics, educational courses, or financial tools available at your own pace. Additionally, iGrad hosts a $1000 Monthly Challenge through the platform accessible to all participants.
How is this different from the Money Matters Institute?
Money Matters Institute is an intensive course designed for Faculty & Staff aimed at prepping participants with basic knowledge to better assists students with their financial questions. In that program, we cove things like understanding the FAFSA/TAFSA, how financial aid is dispersed, and understanding how different campus populations navigate the aid process. Our Money Matters is an initiative available to all members of the University of Houston community and is accessible at any time during your involvement with the University and educates about broader topics beyond financial aid – like saving, budgeting, retirement, and preparing for the future.
Is it free?
Access to the platform is free, and all that is required is your Student/PS ID #.
Why should faculty, staff or students sign up?
Many of our students (and ultimately our faculty and staff) do not have a full understanding of a lot of topics in the financial world. Unless someone studies a major that directly deals with finances, chances are that a lot of the information they get is from family or professional sources. This resource is helpful as it meets people where are, breaks down complex topics, and is self-paced for each individual learner.
How many students take advantage of the financial literacy services offered by Enrollment Services?
It really depends on what someone was looking for. Like everyone else on-campus, our services were significantly impacted by COVID. Right now we are in a re-building phase and focused on proactive education and outreach as well as continuing to offer 1:1 appointments with students. We also reach every single student in orientation through our “Take Charge of Your Success” presentation which covers all of the Enrollment Services office. Our hope is with the launch of Our Money Matters and continued outreach, we will have a steady stream of students!
What challenges have you found most students have when it comes to financial literacy?
By far it is figuring out how to afford college costs and then budgeting while in school. It’s one thing for a student to apply and receive financial aid – but it’s another thing for the student to fully understand the requirements of that financial aid and how that fits into affording their entire year. Things like housing, food, and transportation add up. That’s why we focus early on budgeting and encouraging students to learn how to calculate their costs. Besides this, we also see students struggle with understanding credit cards and credit debt – how one decision today and impact their tomorrow. Finally, we see a lot of students towards the end of their college career start to consider things like salary and negotiation with a job, understanding retirement, and savings.
Is there anything else we should know about Our Money Matters or UH's financial literacy services?
For questions regarding the platform or how to access other financial literacy resources on campus, please contact Jose Martinez, Financial Literacy Counselor in Integrated Enrollment Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.