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Financial Literacy: How Creighton University Created a Financial Literacy Program On Campus

October 4, 2011

Dean Obenauer, Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Financial Literacy, Creighton University

Financial literacy is a growing concern these days. Several colleges and universities are developing programs that will give their students the ability to make informed decisions regarding the future use and management of their money. Knowing that college students need additional information and resources on financial literacy, Creighton University (NE) has developed such a program. Dean Obenauer, a 25+ year veteran of financial aid and Assistant Director of Financial Aid for Financial Literacy at Creighton recently discussed the program with Don Buehrer, Regional Director for Nelnet.

Don: Why was this program developed?

Dean:  With the rising cost of education and student loan indebtedness, Creighton believed it was a priority to provide better customer service, resources, and tools to help students build skills and behaviors to successfully manage their money. The recent financial crisis also served as a wake-up call that we needed to be more proactive with our approach to financial education.  

Don: What were the first steps you took to develop this program?

Dean: We met with everyone on campus that we could think of, such as Deans of various schools, Admissions, Career Center, Student Support Services, Residence Life, Greek Life, and others to let them know there was a new resource on campus.  It was suggested that we keep information brief by providing bullet points, links, and additional resources that students can take advantage of.  We knew the program would be ever-changing, so we started with money basics: budgeting, credit, debit card use, credit history/score, identity theft, and student loan repayment options. In addition to individual counseling and group meetings, a web page was developed using the above philosophy. It is truly a work in progress. (, then select the financial literacy tab).

Don: What are the key elements of your program?

Dean:  We listened to the feedback we received and have tried to keep it simple, yet comprehensive and informative.  The web site was developed with the goal of providing information for students to access on their own timeframe.  Not all students need a refresher on each topic, but all of the information is available if needed.  Some students have told me “I already knew that, but I feel better about what I am doing.” One of the most popular features of the program is the Monthly Budgeting Worksheet that allows students to track their income and expenses. It’s not my job to tell students how to spend their money, but to help them identify where their money goes and present solutions or alternatives.

Don: How do you promote your program on campus?

Dean:  I communicate regularly with various departments on campus as well as the school newspaper. These efforts have led to requests to meet with groups. We also present the material to incoming freshmen during Welcome Week activities, to new students and their parents during Admitted Student Days, during resident hall training, and to senior marketing students at a local high school. Moving forward, I plan to have a student advisory group with peer advisors and develop a monthly seminar schedule.  

Don: Any suggestions for those schools who may be in the early stages of developing such a program?

Dean: There are many different models to approach financial literacy on a college campus. Budgets are tight, so all of us need to identify current resources and add to them as necessary. Getting buy-in from upper level administration is critical.  They will see the need and help find the resources to help provide financial education.  A parent told me recently that their son “was everything he is today because of you.” (Well, not me personally, but because of the education he received at Creighton.) We all want our alumni to feel this way; and now, more than ever, students need financial education, as well as to be ready to take on the real world. 

Don Buehrer, Regional Director

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 31, 2011 11:21 am

    May other institutions use your website and info as a guide to developing their own Financial Literacy page?

    • November 10, 2011 11:26 am

      Debi…I am sure that Dean would be absolutely fine with that. Just to be sure we emailed him to double check. He is one of the nicest people I know…so I think he would love that you were doing something to help students. Regardless of where the idea came from… Jim


  1. Financial Literacy Rewind: Read What Other Campuses Are Doing | Jim Harris Blog

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