MIT, iGrad partner for financial literacy initiative

Adaptive platform aims to help students understand the financial requirements associated with higher education.

financial-literacyiGrad and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have announced plans to add iGrad’s financial literacy platform to MIT’s counseling resources for students.

The Office of the Dean for Graduate Education (ODGE) and the MIT Federal Credit Union plan to make the iGrad financial literacy platform available for free to all of the MIT community, including approximately 11,000 students and approximately 12,000 employees.

“Finances are a key aspect of graduate school, and graduate student debt and financial literacy is a topic of increasing discussion on the national stage,” says Dr. Christine Ortiz, Dean for Graduate Education. “The ODGE is committed to enhancing graduate student financial knowledge to support informed and effective decision-making regarding financial support, budgeting, and long-term planning. We feel that iGrad is a valuable tool to help make this happen.”

(Next page: More details about financial literacy goals)

The Dean said she “recognizes the need to help students understand and manage their finances so they can focus their time and energy on their research.” With more than 30 largely independent departments across campus, all of MIT will be able to access one central resource to provide student-specific financial information, as well as more general info. iGrad provides a turnkey financial literacy program for administrators and students that runs from student orientation to graduation.

“At Student Financial Services we help students make the dream of attending MIT a reality by providing them the resources necessary to meet their financial obligations,” says Leslie Bridson, MIT’s Director of Financial Aid. “We think that adding iGrad to complement our current services will help graduate students stay informed about their financial health throughout their time at MIT and beyond.”

Student loan debt has more than doubled since 2007 and is estimated at about $1 trillion by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The average debt among all 2012 college graduates in the United States was nearly $30,000. Increasing concern about tuition and financial aid among university students nationwide prompted the Coalition of Higher Education Assistance Organizations (COHEAO) to release a report last year about how universities can start or improve financial literacy programs.

“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,” says Scott Hanna, Vice President, Marketing, MIT Federal Credit Union. “MIT FCU welcomed the opportunity to collaborate with ODGE (Office for the Dean of Graduate Education) in offering the iGrad resource, in part, to help provide information which supports student education and understanding, as well as offering tools necessary to manage their money.”

The iGrad online financial literacy platform is an interactive experience that employs adaptive learning to help students sharpen their knowledge about education costs, living expenses and financial planning beyond college. The platform includes optional video-based student loan entrance and exit counseling, and leverages articles, videos, games, and interactive modules.

iGrad Vice President Kris Alban says MIT’s decision to implement the iGrad financial literacy discipline is an affirmation of iGrad’s thought leadership and pioneering work: “When one of the leading higher education institutions examines all of the options out there and chooses iGrad, that tells us that we are succeeding in our mission of delivering first-class financial literacy education.”

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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Laura Ascione

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