The LSU Cale P. & Katherine Smith Student Financial Management Center began its fifth year of Transit — LSU’s Financial Literacy Challenge — which first-year students are required to complete by March 3.
The SFMC began in 2009 and launched its first Financial Literacy Challenge in 2013. The course, called Transit, was made by Everfi and is utilized by several other universities. SFMC coordinator Emily Burris Hester said the challenge is supposed to teach students about how to manage money and understand the many ways money is used.
“Even if you take a finances class, the idea of personal money management is very limited in terms of providing financial literacy to the students anywhere in the classroom,” Hester said. “We have really taken it as our responsibility to help educate the students outside of the classrooms, so they can be successful in managing their own money when they’re in school and for the rest of their lives. It’s one of those things that can really determine a person’s future success.”
The Transit course is set up in modules instead of a survey, Hester said. The course starts out with survey questions to see where students’ levels of financial literacy are, and after they take the course it measures how much the student has learned. Transit has interactive scenarios for students to complete instead of watching videos or taking tests. The course takes about an hour to an hour and a half to complete.
SFMC graduate assistant Austin Knight said the LSU Financial Literacy Challenge is required for first year students because many students think financial literacy is not important.
“If it was an optional thing, a lot of students would think it isn’t necessary for them to do, but by putting that required stamp on it, we help them understand it is something they need to do,” Knight said. “Hopefully once they start looking at it they will begin to see how relevant and important it is. It’s a way to make sure that students are giving it the time.”
Hester said financial literacy is something students need in college but that the skill will remain important after graduation.
“I sort of see it as ‘This is one hour of your life that could make a positive impact for the rest of your life,’” Hester said. “If you get these principles and understand how to manage your money now while you’re a freshman in college, then your ability to do that for the rest of your college career and afterwards, you’re going to be ahead of the game.”
Marketing freshman major Morgan Hernandez said that while she feels financial literacy is important for students to learn, she does not like the required aspect of the challenge.
“I’m not really for another required online course,” Hernandez said. “I’m fine if it’s an option or a resource people can use, but to be required is a little much.”
Not only does the SFMC offer this course, but it also offers additional services to help aid students in financial literacy. It offers one-on-one appointments where students can discuss a variety of financial topics with an adviser, such as making and maintaining a budget. In the spring the SFMC, also hosts Financial Literacy Week. Hester said the SFMC does events in an effort to keep financial literacy on the minds of students.