The statistics are staggering: 70 percent of college students are financially stressed1, 38 percent worry that they will run out of money before the end of the semester2, and three out of five experience food insecurity while in school3.

Because of these numbers, your college has added a financial wellness program to help students learn the necessary skills and information to help them achieve financial health.

However, you struggle to get students enrolled and engaged in the program. The reason could be a lack of gamification.

Student Engagement

The best way to ensure student engagement is to offer a financial wellness program that meets students' needs.

A survey of recent high school graduates4 found that almost all the respondents (97 percent) felt that financial literacy was important, and half found financial topics interesting. The study also found that students wanted to know more about saving money, managing expenses, and filing taxes.

Of course, the best way to discover what your students want is to ask them. By conducting a financial wellness survey, you can determine the needs of your unique student body.

But what if you already have a program that offers the right topics, and your students still don't participate?

Remember, not all student financial wellness programs are created equally. Best practices suggest that financial wellness engagement increases when your program includes:

  • Customization
  • Interactive courses and tools
  • Personalization 
  • Quality content
  • Student financial assessments
  • Gamification

Defining Gamification

Gamification happens when you take something that is not a game (like learning financial wellness) and add in game mechanics.

Gamification is perfect for potentially dull, complex activities that require time management to complete.

Imagine students being given the choice to listen to a dry lecture on student loan repayment or play an interactive game teaching the same information. Most students would choose the game.

One study5 found that adding gamification increased engagement in activities by 100 percent or more. Other studies found that gamification:

  • Motivates students6
  • Increases memory7
  • Stimulates better performance
  • Provides a sense of accomplishment

To increase engagement, here are three gamification elements that your financial wellness program should offer.

Leaderboard Element 

As a gamification element, leaderboards encourage your students to:

  • Continue the learning process
  • Engage in materials that may seem boring
  • Complete courses rather than quitting partway through

Students can gain leaderboard rank as they complete specific tasks – such as finishing a course, taking an assessment, creating a personal plan, and more.

Your financial wellness platform should allow you to determine what milestones you want your students to achieve, as well as the time frame you want them to achieve them in. 

You might also consider letting your students share their leaderboard ranking on social media or within your school's network. 

Earning Points

Earning points is similar to the leaderboard because it's dependent on the student completing specific aspects of your financial wellness program.

Like the leaderboard, earning points keeps students motivated. The big difference is that you can allow students to "cash in" their points for prizes.

The prizes can be:

  • Gift cards to local stores
  • Discounts to local stores
  • School swag
  • Free dessert from one of the school's cafeterias

You can decide what to offer and how many points it takes to earn the prizes. The sky's the limit.

Offering points can encourage students to complete actions that will help achieve university goals. For example, if you have a goal to reduce student loan defaults, you could offer points for students to complete a course on understanding student loans and how to repay them. 

Earning Badges

The best way to achieve financial wellness is to continually learn about financial topics. If students can earn badges, they're more likely to stay motivated and on track. If you put a time frame element on the badges, you can keep students engaging more often.

You can allow students to earn badges for achieving:

  • A specific grade on a quiz
  • Reading a series of related articles
  • Being active on the platform for a specified length of time
  • Creating and completing personalized goals

The iGrad platform provides gamification at many levels, including monthly challenges, points, leaderboards, and more.

Our platform contains an integrated Rewards API, which allows university leaders to determine which exercises, assessments, and scores earn awards. 

When your financial wellness platform includes gamification, your students will be more likely to engage and learn the skills needed to be financially healthy. 


1 -

2 -

3 -

4 -

5 -

6 -

7 -