The growth of student loan debt has been in the news a lot recently.

It is a distressing situation, but one silver lining is that colleges have grown focused on financial education for their students with the growth of debt.

Colleges and universities are finding that financial wellness is the best way to battle future student loan debt. It also helps students do better in school and graduate on time.1

More and more programs are available for colleges to choose from. Some schools develop their own programs, while others outsource them to financial literacy companies.

Either way, there are five key elements that any college financial wellness program should have.

1. Personalization

Probably the most important aspect of a successful financial wellness program is its level of personalization. One-size-fits-all is simply not possible when it comes to learning about money management.

This is especially true with the growing number of adults returning to college. Currently, almost 75% of college students are “non-traditional.” That is, they are over age 25 and often work full time.2  

Financial needs differ between an 18-year-old first-year college student and a 30-year-old mother of two completing her degree.

A successful financial wellness program will accommodate these differences through platform personalization. It will allow users to select topics that interest them, and over time it will offer more personalized information. 

Related article:  How to Measure the Success of a College Financial Wellness Program

2. Performance Reporting

To have a successful program, you need to know what is working and what is not working.

Choose a financial wellness program that offers comprehensive performance analytics.

These reports can show you things like return log-in rates and page views per visit. This can help you gauge how interested students are in the program and certain topics.

Another helpful metric is time spent on the site. If your wellness program is engaging and easy to interact with, you will see more time spent on the site. A program that is not interesting or not personalized will see people leave with little to no engagement.

To learn more about engagement, check out Measuring Student Engagement in Financial Wellness Programs.

3. Financial Behavior Assessment

To improve financial wellbeing, it is important to know where you are starting from. Choose a financial wellness program that offers a financial behavior assessment.

Like personalization, an assessment can help tailor options and information to what the student needs most. 74% of college students are stressed about money. Financial stress impacts student health and can make it hard to know what steps to take.3

A solid behavior assessment helps students learn where their money is going and start to understand how they can change habits.

A financial behavior assessment helps students know where to begin.

4. Integration

Integrating a program into all aspects of campus life helps to increase engagement. A good program will be able to integrate with a university website and other wellness initiatives.

A stand-alone wellness program is more likely to be ignored by students. A successful program integrates into a university’s processes.

Integration is one of the five key best practices for financial literacy education published by the U.S. Financial Literacy and Education Commission.4

5. An Ongoing Experience

One-time financial education seminars or workshops have been shown to be less effective than an ongoing learning experience.

One study found that repeating interactive exercises and tests helps to increase long-term retention.5

Rather than try to teach lifetime financial habits in a single educational workshop, choose a financial wellness program that provides an ongoing interactive experience and drives behavior change

As with integration and personalization, this makes a big difference in the level of engagement with the program.

As a student learns more or their life situation changes, the wellness program should adapt and continue to provide new, relevant information in the changing situation.


Financial wellness programs have become one of the top perks offered by higher education institutes.

Students are more stressed about money than ever, which makes financial wellness a top priority for colleges.

When choosing a workplace financial wellness program for your school, make sure to consider these key elements.

Financially secure students are less stressed. They are more likely to graduate and be successful later in life.



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