Studies1 show that a majority of students deal with financial stress.

They worry about the ability to pay monthly bills (50.5 percent), pay their tuition (59.8 percent), pay off their student loans (35 percent), and more.

In many instances, the worry is due to a lack of financial knowledge, tools, and behaviors needed to make appropriate financial decisions. 

Thankfully, students want to know more.

The Majoring in Money report2 found that 84 percent want to learn more about personal finances.

Because of student needs and desires, many colleges and universities have begun to offer financial wellness programs to their students.

These programs help motivate students to exchange poor financial behaviors for better ones, thus eliminating much of the financial stress.

However, this kind of change only happens when students engage with the program.

A May 2018 iGrad analysis found that there is a direct link between engagement and higher test scores, as well as a link between higher test scores and stronger financial wellness.

iGrad also learned that students came to the platform to engage in the “fun” activities but stayed for the educational ones.

With this in mind, here are four ideas to engage college students in financial wellness.

1. Undergrad Class Competition

There is nothing better than a competition, so why not create a competition between graduating classes, dorms, or between campus organizations. Points can be assigned to specific completed activities and a prize given to the winning team.

Something to keep in mind is that a majority of students entering college have been playing games their entire lives. So, adding some kind of gaming component to financial wellness will definitely get students interested.

Studies show that adding game-like elements, known as gamification, can:

  • Increase learning and retention3
  • Makes learning more enjoyable4
  • Increases participation5
  • Increases motivation6
  • Be more engaging7

Is a class competition not right for your students? Consider other gamification elements such as earning badges, bonuses, or certificates, participating in an all-school challenge, or displaying participation leaderboards. 

2.What’s Your Money Personality?

Another great way to get student engagement is to let students take a money personality test. One look at social media will show that students love to take quizzes and display the results to friends.

Studies show why this is true:

  • Students enjoy talking about themselves – and it is actually biological. When students talk about themselves, they produce “feel good” hormones. And a Harvard study shows that answering questions on an assessment results in the same hormone production8
  • Students are part of the self-help generation pushing the self-help industry to $38.28 billion with projected growth of 5.1 percent yearly9. Learning about one’s financial personality can be the first step toward taking appropriate actions.
  • Students like to belong and identify with others who are similar to them. As students take the personality test, they learn what makes them tick financially and can join others who feel the same way about money.

iGrad has a financial personality assessment similar to the Myers Briggs called Your Money Personality that helps students understand their financial behaviors and emotions.

The personality profile highlights both strengths and challenges and then provides resources to learn how to approach money in a more balanced way.

3. How Much Do You Really Spend on Coffee?

The line at Starbucks before classes can run out the door as students wait for a cinnamon shortbread latte or an iced coconut milk mocha macchiato.

But do students know how much they spend a semester – or their school career – buying these morning pick-me-ups? iGrad offers the "How Much Do Your Daily Expenses Cost Over Time?" calculator that will tell a student just that. 

With most concoctions costing $3, and some costing well over $5, students may be spending way more than they think. And, once they know the number, students have the opportunity to consider different choices.

Interactive tools are a great way to increase a student’s10:

  • Attention span
  • Engagement with the financial wellness program
  • Activity completion
  • Learning and pass rates
  • Involvement in the material

4. Chance to Win $200

Nothing motivates a student more than money, so consider adding a monetary prize for participating in the financial wellness program.

iGrad found that when students are given an incentive, or even a chance at winning an incentive, for completing specific financial wellness components, engagement increased in several areas:

  • Sessions activated
  • Pageviews
  • Average session time

Colleges and universities that offer enticing incentives to students have a much higher engagement level than those that do not.

Consider adding one or more of these ideas to engage students in your financial wellness program.

Or come up with ideas of your own revolving around gamification, quizzes, interactive tools, and incentives.

As you do, you’ll see more interest in the program, which will lead to more financially-well students.



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