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Financial Literacy: What is Bevonomics at the University of Texas Austin?

March 13, 2012

Michelle Lynn Guzman, Coordinator of Outreach Initiatives, University of Texas at Austin

Many colleges and universities across the country are developing their own money management education programs for their students. These programs provide information and resources which assist students in making financially responsible decisions. Such is the case at The University of Texas at Austin and their Bevonomics Program. Michelle Lynn Guzman, Coordinator of Outreach Initiatives at the school, was recently interviewed by Don Buehrer, Nelnet Regional Director for SWASFAA and RMASFAA.

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Don:  Before we begin, can you explain the name Bevonomics for people who are unfamiliar with your school mascot?

Michelle:  Our program’s name is a play on words combining our longhorn mascot’s name “Bevo” and “economics”.  It’s a fun, creative way for UT-Austin students to identify with our program and examine their personal finances.

Don: What are the goals of your program?

Michelle: The Bevonomics program has three main goals:  1) Provide students with accurate and practical personal financial management information 2) Help students develop comprehensive daily and monthly spending plans 3) Provide students with practical recommendations on how to reduce expenses.

Don: Why was this program developed?

Michelle:  Bevonomics was created to address the growing concern of increased borrowing trends in higher education.  We also believe it is important to educate college students on personal money matters in order to minimize any potential future financial mishaps.  Through our curriculum, we provide information and resources that empower students to make financially responsible decisions that promote financial wellness.

Don: What does your curriculum consist of?

Michelle:  Our curriculum covers an array of subject matter that is applicable to the average college student.  Bevonomics workshops include Budgeting & Building Credit like a College Student, Understanding Stocks, Bonds and Mutual Funds, Investing for Life, Managing Your Student Loans, Making the Move to Living Off-Campus, Capitalizing on Employee Benefits and Making the Most of Your Scholarship Search.

Don: How are the workshops conducted and who teaches them?

Michelle:  Our workshops are led by trained peer education trainers, financial aid counselors, and a Finance Lecturer from the McCombs School of Business.  Workshops are free and open to all UT Austin students, faculty and staff and operate on a walk-in basis.  In addition, we conduct workshops to various student organizations, freshman interest groups, and resident halls on campus.

Don: How do you reach out to your students to inform them of your services?

Michelle: We advertise to our students through a variety of ways which include: visual media (i.e. posters, electronic bulletin boards), email notifications to students and staff/faculty listserves, and through the Bevonomics Facebook page and website.

Don: What other resources do you make available to your students?

Michelle: provides students access to a variety of handouts and an interactive spending plan which they can use to better manage their funds.  The financial aid office has also created “UT for Less,” a website that provides students with strategies to make budget conscious choices throughout their time at the university.

Don: What kind of feedback have you received from your students?

Michelle:  We receive positive praise and appreciation for the work we do from students and university colleagues. The best compliment is when students attend more than one of our workshops.

Don: Do you have any advice for other schools that are just beginning to develop financial literacy programs?

Michelle:  First, you must evaluate the financial concerns and needs of your student audience in order to develop a program they will be receptive towards.  Also, take the time to research what other schools are doing and what resources and tools are already available; no sense in re-creating the wheel.  Most importantly, you must follow best practices to ensure no harm is caused to the students; thus, choose your resources and information wisely.

Don Buehrer, Regional Director, Nelnet Partner Solutions

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