This four-year private university in central New York state offers a comprehensive financial literacy program for its students, I Otto Know This! Named for the school’s mascot, Otto the Orange, the program strives to provide relevant financial skills that can benefit Syracuse University students long after they graduate.
The program includes the following components:
- Money Awareness Program. Since its inception in 2009, M.A.P. has saved students more than $2.5 million by replacing alternative education loan funds with M.A.P. Grants. The program currently has 91 students who receive an average grant of $5,000-$7,000 per year. The student is required to sign a contract that secures the grant funding and commits the student to attending a financial literacy session once per academic semester. Students meet the financial literacy requirements by attending a group session, a one-on-one session with the M.A.P. coordinator or an online activity.
- USA Funds Life Skills®. The university introduced USA Funds Life Skills online financial literacy tutorials in June 2010. It since has included completion of the budgeting module of Life Skills as a “to-do” item on students’ financial aid online checklist. As a result, more than 2,900 users have taken lessons.
- Presentations. The program actively presents on personal financial literacy topics to campus organizations and programs, including the following: Summer Start, Office of Residence Life, First Year Forum, McNair Scholars, Phanstiel Scholars, WellsLink, ROTC, and multiple sororities and fraternities. Since April 2010, the program has presented to more than 1,300 students.
- E-News. The university financial aid office electronic newsletter includes a one-page I Otto Know This! article in each edition. Six times a year, 14,000 students receive the newsletter by email.
- Additional Outreach. “I Otto Know This!” has a comprehensive website, which includes monthly updated “Did You Know” tips designed by federal work-study students; a listserv, which currently has 285 subscribers; an interactive student budget; a list of student discounts and a video series, produced by the financial aid office, which provides engaging, informational money management videos.
The financial aid office manages the program through its assistant director, financial literacy and education programs, and an eight-member committee of financial aid staff members.