BY MERYL PHAIR ’21
The Office of Student Financial Services recently announced the launch of CashCourse, a free financial resource for students, on Jan. 24. The website includes instructions on budgeting, saving, credit, debt management and taxes.
CashCourse replaced SALT, the College’s former online financial tool, because it was discontinued by its provider on Dec. 31, 2018. CashCourse is used by 1,155 colleges and universities across the country, and Mount Holyoke is among 32 other colleges in Massachusetts that have switched to the website.
“When the news that SALT would be discontinued was released, we began the process of researching replacement programs,” said Kate Rajbhandari, Associate Director of Student Financial Services at Mount Holyoke. “Beginning early in the fall semester the Financial Peer Mentors and I conducted a survey of online financial wellness tools for students available in the marketplace and being used [on] other college campuses.”
They demoed the six most promising options and evaluated them based on the inclusiveness of their content, accessibility to students, administrative requirements and affordability. “We felt that CashCourse most successfully met these criteria,” said Rajbhandari.
The website was created by The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), a private nonprofit national foundation. According to their website, NEFE is “dedicated to inspiring empowered financial decision making for individuals and families through every stage of life.”
Along with providing information on financial basics, CashCourse addresses concerns like covering the costs of higher education, repaying student loans and funding study abroad or graduate and professional degrees.
CashCourse provides information related to career planning, including entering the work world, understanding benefits and negotiating a salary. These common concerns among college students are similar to those addressed by the Career Development Center (CDC). Two Financial Service Fellows were invited by the CDC to speak with Peer Career Advisors on Friday Feb. 8 so that the Peer Advisors would be familiar with the tool when supporting students seeking internships.
“For many students, summer internships and research opportunities are an opportunity to build independent financial management skills, and CashCourse offers a variety of interesting articles, tools and tips to help them get started,” said Kelly Woods, Associate Director and Career Advisor at the CDC.
“I would definitely encourage students to use CashCourse,” said Helena Beliveau ’19, a peer advisor at the CDC. “There’s a plethora of information that’s super helpful to college students who may be encountering these topics for the first time.”
CashCourse uses online financial education courses, as well as customizable financial tools such as worksheets, a Budget Wizard, quizzes and a calculator. It also includes a personal dashboard to track progress, articles and resources on topics that students can relate to and a guide to real-life money questions.
Rajbhandari said that in addition to resources available on CashCourse, Student Financial Services is hosting an information session and a workshop on filing federal taxes on Monday, Feb. 25 at 4:30 p.m. in Cleveland L3. The session will include information for U.S. citizens, permanent residents and students who are considered residents.
To enroll in CashCourse, students can visit the website, cashcourse.org, and create a free account.