SU financial aid office promotes financial literacy through innovative grant program
An innovative grant program developed and offered by the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs at Syracuse University is educating students to enable them to make smart decisions about money while reducing their educational loan burden.
The Money Awareness Program, or MAP, aims to enhance the SU experience by replacing some students’ high-interest loans with University grant funding—equaling on average $5,000-$7,000 annually. The program is geared toward sophomores, juniors or seniors that have borrowed alternative loan funding in addition to the maximum federal student loans to pay for college, and who are making satisfactory academic progress toward their degrees. Each participating student is required to take part in a financial literacy session once a semester. The goal of the financial literacy component is to help students understand credit and basic financial management skills.
The program was featured recently in The Chronicle of Higher Education for its originality in combining financial knowledge and loan debt reduction. “The MAP is one of our initiatives that allows us to reduce the financial burden students—and their families—are facing now, while also preparing them for life beyond college,” says Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, SU associate vice president for enrollment management.
Rebecca Rose, loan education specialist and MAP coordinator in the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs, helped develop the program and provides the actual instruction to the students in the program. The MAP instruction focuses on education in the financial issues most relevant to students now and in their future—the best ways to borrow; understanding the terms of loan repayment; and personal money management, including spending, saving, budgeting, credit cards and credit scores. MAP will continue to support the students until graduation, provided they continue to fulfill the financial literacy requirement.
In addition, the students must sign a MAP contract stating their commitment to lowering loan borrowing. The contract encourages students to find alternative sources of financial aid, such as scholarships.
“As financial aid professionals, we see the need for students to learn how to manage money,” says Rose. “Through the MAP, we’re able to address that need and provide our students with the financial literacy skills that will benefit them throughout their lifetimes.”