Having a financial wellness program is a great way to attract students to your institution.
Almost all Americans say they are stressed by money and that stress is especially prevalent in college students.1
Setting them up with a financial wellness program helps to reduce stress and improve money habits.
Once you have a program set up, the next step is to get students to use it.
Here are ten ways to help share your financial wellness program with students.
1. Include mentions of your program in all student-wide communications.
This does not need to be a lengthy description or advertisement.
In fact, advertisements are often ignored, so it is better if it is just a casual mention. It can be as simple as a single line at the end of an email: “Remember to check out our financial wellness program!” or “If you haven’t already, sign up for our financial wellness program.”
This works as a good closing, even on emails that are not about the wellness program itself.
2. Integrate it throughout the whole campus.
iGrad's College Administrator study found that schools with a "multi-department" task force achieved a significantly higher rate of engagement for their financial wellness program.
All staff and student advisors should be aware of the program and promoting it, not just the financial aid department.
The program should be a part of everyday life on campus, as easily mentioned as the dining hall.
3. Use contests to grow interest.
People love competition. More than half of people in a survey said they would pay more attention to their behaviors if a level of competition was added.2
Adding a competitive element to your program can help increase participation.
Contests like “Which dorm will have the most people sign up for the financial wellness program?” can help inspire people to sign up and has the added benefit of creating healthy peer pressure.
4. Leverage the prevalence of smartphones.
College students love their phones – they are on them up to ten hours a day.3 Sending reminder texts about your financial wellness program will reach students where they are.
Don’t overdo it– too much communication will be ignored as spam. But do use texts to promote specific aspects of your financial wellness program. “Did you know…?” texts can work well to create interest.
If your program has a dedicated phone app, even better.
5. Use social media.
Perhaps the only thing college students like more than their phones is social media, and the two go very well together.
Social media can be used traditionally, as with ads, to promote your program. It can be used more dynamically via Facebook groups, Twitter surveys, or specific promotion hashtags.
For more best practices on using social media to ignite your financial wellness program engagement, check out "How to Make Financial Literacy Go Viral with Social Media".
6. Include it in new student orientation.
First-year students or transfers always attend an orientation to get to know the school.
This is the perfect opportunity to promote your financial wellness program.
Be sure to feature the program prominently alongside other important things, not as an afterthought.
Lay the groundwork here for the program to be a staple in college life.
7. Use traditional posters with calls to action.
Posters are popular in colleges and universities. Clubs, sports, and events all use them for promotion.
Your financial wellness program should be no different.
Create engaging, colorful posters that include a call to action.
A call to action is an instruction using an imperative verb that commands a specific behavior. They are used often in marketing, and are designed to promote an immediate response, i.e., “Sign up now!” or “Call today!”
8. Make it worth their while.
Incentives help. Money, gifts, extra credit all work as powerful incentives to drive students to your financial wellness program.
Incentives have been shown to increase participation in a program by 50% or more.4
While money is an excellent motivator, college students can also be swayed with things like coffee gift cards, hats, mugs, and t-shirts.
For more on different types of incentives and what extent each type influences program engagement, check out "The Impact of Incentives on Student Financial Literacy Programs".
9. Include the financial wellness program on your school’s website.
A banner or graphic about the financial wellness program should be included on every page of your school’s website.
Similar to email communications, this can be a small graphic that links to the program.
Having it on the home page alone is not enough – put it on every page to keep it in front of faces.
10. Personalize communications.
Using email and text communications, as we’ve seen, can help spread the word about your financial wellness program.
But in order to increase the efficacy of those communications, it is best to personalize them. “Dear Brett,” is more likely to get Brett to open the email than “Dear Students.”
Even better, entice them with a question. “Brett, do you want more money for weekend fun?”
.Financially healthy students are less likely to drop out and more likely to graduate on time and promote your institution.5
Remember, the key to a successful program of any kind is participation.
Use every tool you can to keep your financial wellness program relevant and prominent in student life.
1 - https://www.inceptia.org/PDF/Inceptia_FinancialStress_whitepaper.pdf
2 - https://www.snipp.com/blog/2017-06-21/the-power-of-gamification-participation-engagement-loyalty
3 - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6517887/
4 - https://www.enrich.org/blog/employee-financial-wellness-program-incentives
5 - https://scholarshipamerica.org/blog/financial-stress-prevents-college-students-from-graduating-what-can-we-do/