This fall begins a new chapter in addressing and improving student financial literacy across the Institute — from job searching and salary negotiation to budgeting and tax preparation. A new financial literacy initiative, a collaboration between the MIT Office for the Dean of Graduate Education (ODGE), MIT Student Financial Services (SFS), and MIT Federal Credit Union (FCU), includes access to an online portal with extensive financial literacy resources free to every MIT community member and a series of coordinated financial literacy workshops to begin this fall.
As Dean for Graduate Education Christine Ortiz has said in a recent faculty newsletter article, “Finances are a key aspect of graduate school, and financial literacy is a topic of increasing discussion on the national stage. We are committed to enhancing graduate student financial knowledge to support informed and effective decision-making regarding financial support, budgeting, and long-term planning.” Across the Institute, there has been a recognized need for clarity and advance planning on students’ part, including budgeting, investing, and record-keeping, as well as information about funding sources.
An online financial literacy tool “iGrad” was selected as one source of personalized financial learning. Scott Tirrell, manager of graduate fellowships in the ODGE is spearheading its implementation. “We’ve worked very effectively at expanding fellowships and distributing finance information,” Tirrell says. Educating the community about money management and decision-making has been the logical next step in offering financial support to graduate students." The iGrad tool serves as a financial literacy partner for over 600 schools across the country. The platform has been customized for MIT and includes videos, articles, games, a job board, scholarship board, and interactive modules on a wide range of topics, including emergency-funding, credit card management, identity protection, and spending-smarts.
Leslie Bridson, director of financial aid in Student Financial Services at MIT, says: “Adding iGrad to complement our current services will help students stay informed about their financial health throughout their time at MIT and beyond.”
In order to foster use of the iGrad platform, the ODGE is announcing a fall lineup of noontime financial literacy workshops:
- “Financial Resources on Campus” (Oct. 6, Room 68-180)
- “Graduate Fellowships: Obtaining & Maintaining” (Oct. 20, Room 68-180)
- “Managing Credit and Debit” (Nov. 16, Room W20-308)
- “How to Budget Your Money” (Dec. 1, Room W20-308).
The first workshop will also provide assistance with setting up a personal financial literacy account in iGrad.
Tirrell is developing the curriculum for the ODGE workshops, and also serves as a resource for graduate students seeking fellowship and funding information. Throughout the year, he runs webinars and sits on panels informing students about opportunities and requirements for fellowships. Tirrell has also been instrumental in expanding the ODGE student finances website, which includes an extensive list of fellowships.
“The Credit Union welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with the ODGE in offering the iGrad resource," says Scott Hanna, vice president of marketing at the MIT FCU, “in part to help provide information which supports student education and understanding, as well as offering tools necessary to manage their money. As a community, MIT offers many great resources to its students — both current and alumni. Beyond the classroom and lecture halls, having a solid understanding of money management is important to this audience.”