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Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs launches ‘I Otto Know This!’
The Syracuse University Office of Financial Aid and Scholarship Programs has launched a multi-faceted program designed to promote lifelong fiscal fitness for all students. Extending far beyond traditional financial aid office services, “I Otto Know This!” is a multi-level effort that provides real-life money management skills and resources.
Named in honor of beloved SU mascot Otto the Orange, the new program includes complementary components, including Life Skills online modules, the Money Awareness Program (M.A.P.), the Federal TEACH Grant, in-person presentations and financial aid e-news updates.
Life Skills is an interactive Web-based tool that provides tips, quizzes, information and customizable scenarios relative to budgeting, credit reports, credit scores and debt management. Students have online access to important financial information throughout their academic careers to reinforce time and fiscal management skills beyond their education.
The Money Awareness Program (M.A.P.) is a two-part grant and educational program developed to enable students to make smart decisions about money, while helping reduce their educational loan burden. M.A.P. enhances 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 who 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 Federal TEACH Grant is offered to select students who intend to teach in a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income families. Grants of up to $4,000 per year are available to students who agree to teach for at least four years within eight years of finishing their teacher preparation program and to teach high-need subjects in designated schools that serve low-income students.
And “I Otto Know This!” is a new e-newsletter feature that strives to keep students current with financial information to help them better understand how to manage their money. Topics include credit, credit scores and reports, budgets, identity theft and saving.
Financial literacy efforts are not uncommon on U.S. college campuses. A recent Student Loan Analytics survey of 260 financial aid administrators indicates that 43 percent of institutions offer literacy counseling. What differentiates the SU program is that it addresses literacy in multiple ways. While nearly 80 percent of surveyed administrators report efforts limited to in-person workshops, “I Otto Know This!” combines key financial literacy components with active solicitation of student participation for counseling and additional grants. The program is intended to serve all SU students, including undergraduate, graduate, law and University College (some colleges only provide counseling to certain populations).
“Funding a college education needn’t be a source of confusion and anxiety,” says Youlonda Copeland-Morgan, SU associate vice president of enrollment management. “We’re aiming here to elevate the perception of a financial aid office as a reactive and process-oriented place to something far more valuable. We’re creating a more proactive role for our students and ourselves that will provide lifelong dividends in confidence and peace of mind.”
For more information on the “I Otto Know This!” program, visit http://financialaid.syr.edu/otto.htm or call 315-443-5909.