Become Financially Literate: CashCourse

Navigating payment for higher education while balancing living costs and other expenses is a fact of life for students.

To aid you in this, Rush University has debuted CashCourse, a free online financial literacy resource funded by the National Endowment for Financial Education. It provides both students and alumni with helpful information on loans, budgeting and financial planning for life after graduation.

Jill Gable, director of the Office of Student Financial Aid, details how CashCourse can help you make smarter decisions with your money, for the present and the future.

Are there any financial pitfalls students are more likely to fall into?

Jill Gable: The most common financial pitfall for university students is borrowing funds they do not necessarily need. Students should be living as frugally as possible in order to minimize borrowing. At orientations, we emphasize that all debt will need to be repaid from future income so that students fully understand how decisions they make now will continue to impact them as graduates and working professionals. CashCourse has a great piece called “Is it a ‘Need’ or a ‘Want’? Here’s How to Tell.” We encourage all students to read through this to make sure they are not borrowing funds for unnecessary expenses.

How can CashCourse help students make smarter financial decisions?

JG: CashCourse functions as an excellent supplement to the financial education already provided by the Office of Student Financial Aid. We spend a lot of time educating students about the various federal loan programs, repayment options and loan forgiveness opportunities. CashCourse addresses these topics, as well, and also provides guidance on how to create a budget and manage a fixed income, critical topics for students living on modest earnings. While the Office of Student Financial Aid helps students secure the funding they need, CashCourse can help students manage that funding to make sure it lasts through the end of each term.

What else does CashCourse cover?

JG: CashCourse covers a wide variety of topics, from financing a graduate education to purchasing a home. This resource is geared not only toward existing students, but also alumni who are facing financial decisions centered around starting a family, selecting a health insurance plan and saving for retirement.

Are there opportunities to learn beyond the site itself?

JG: One of our hopes for CashCourse is that it will lead to a series of workshops that we can host annually. CashCourse comes with workshop kits that the Office of Student Financial Aid can deliver to students on a variety of subjects such as budgeting, credit and dealing with debt. Ahead of these workshops, we can create assignments through CashCourse for attendees in which they can educate themselves on the topic to be presented, take a quiz to strengthen their learning and then come to the workshop with questions already in mind. We are still working to develop and implement this piece of CashCourse for our students, but we hope to begin offering these types of workshops in the near future.

Where else can students find CashCourse tips?

JG: CashCourse has mobile signup. Students who sign up will have weekly financial tips sent directly to their phone.

How do students get started?

JG: Getting started is very simple. Go to www.cashcourse.org and under “Student,” click “Register Now.” Students only need to provide name, state, school, email and password in order to explore everything CashCourse has to offer.