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Grant to fund financial literacy program at MSU

A $40,000 grant from the Council of Graduate Schools will help Mississippi State University develop a financial education program for undergraduate and graduate students.

The grant is part of CGS’ Enhancing Financial Education Project, and is co-sponsored by financial services provider TIAA-CREF. The program will be designed to educate students about how to manage their personal financing and make good decisions related to saving, spending and borrowing money.

It will include face-to-face workshops, online training, traditional courses, career counseling, communication networks and social media.

Karen Coats, MSU associate dean of the Graduate School and co-principal investigator for the project, said student loan debt exceeded $1 trillion nationwide last year.

“As students amass debt at the undergraduate level, many of our best and brightest are unable to continue their education in graduate or professional school, preventing them from achieving mastery of their discipline and limiting their ability to reach their full potential,” Coats said in a school press release. “Mississippi State is committed to the well-being of our students and recognizes the need to help students make sound and informed financial decisions.”

Mississippi State’s Office of the Graduate School, in partnership with faculty and staff experts in financial literacy, student financial aid, information systems and technology, career counseling, and other student services, will use the funding to establish a comprehensive financial literacy program for MSU students.

“It is our hope that this program will promote financially informed students who will leave our institution with a brighter future,” Coats said.

CGS President Debra W. Stewart said that the project addresses an area of leading concern for graduate deans, according to an annual survey of CGS members.

“In collaboration with 14 other awardees and 19 affiliate partners, Mississippi State University is stepping up to help students prepare for the financial challenges of college life and beyond,” Stewart said.

At the Capitol, state Treasurer Lynn Fitch supported legislation this last session that would have mandated financial literacy courses for Mississippi high school students. The legislation failed, but Fitch has said she will push it again in 2014.

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