Student Financial Wellness adopts new name, embraces focus on overall health

Student Financial Literacy changes its name to Student Financial Wellness. Olivia Havre | Photographer

By Mariah Bennett | Staff Writer

On Oct. 28, the Student Financial Literacy program changed its name to Student Financial Wellness. The program announced the change on Instagram, stating in the caption that the change was made to reflect the scope of its mission at Baylor.

“As we’ve been developing this programming, we’ve been growing our mission here at Baylor,” Sara Ray, Student Financial Wellness program manager, said. “So we really wanted to go with a more holistic name — hence, Student Financial Wellness.”

New Braunfels junior Caroline Hartung is a student money management coach with Student Financial Wellness. She said the program’s current goal is to help students understand money management and develop financial knowledge and skills that are necessary for their current and future financial wellness.

Ray said Student Financial Wellness provides both self-paced and group opportunities for students, including a free online course called Financial Literacy 101, presentations, workshops and outreach opportunities. She also said students can come in and meet with a student money management coach — a fellow student who is fully trained on personal finance — about their personal questions like budgeting and financial goals.

“[Coaches] can kind of be that guide and that accountability partner in building out financial skills, knowledge, goals that students want to reach and just really provide that support system,” Ray said. “It can be really hard to navigate personal finances and money management for the first time when you’re trying to do it alone.”

Hartung said the program exists to help students in many ways, not just in their financial knowledge.

“We want to actually help [students] in a holistic manner and have more of a wellness rather than financial aid,” Hartung said. “We are for their full wellness, not just their financial knowledge.”

Ray said Student Financial Wellness takes a community approach as opposed to the individualistic approach associated with the previous title of Student Financial Literacy. However, financial literacy is a component to financial wellness, Ray said.

“Financial literacy is really about developing the knowledge and skills for students to figure out how to navigate their personal finance, financial situation and the wider economy,” Ray said. “Financial wellness is so much broader … We’re starting to have conversations with students about what they financially value, and how does that play into building knowledge and skills, as well as helping students navigate finding different support systems, experiential learning opportunities, building assets, like building, saving and investing.”

In the Instagram caption announcing the name change, Student Financial Wellness said the program’s mission is expanding beyond simply educating individuals and is exploring new ways for students to become empowered through experiential learning opportunities and asset-building efforts.

“Our office is connected to resources across campus and the wider community that we refer students to in order to ensure they are materially, emotionally, relationally and spiritually supported,” the Instagram caption reads.

Ray said Baylor’s Christian tradition makes Student Financial Wellness unique compared to similar departments at secular campuses.

“I would say the unique aspects that we’re starting to build out is the aspect of asking students to think about issues like stewardship, generosity, humility, being honest in the marketplace — all of those different issues that maybe a secular institution or a public institution, those might not necessarily be questions that students get asked,” Ray said. “But here at Baylor, we want our students to become Christian leaders. And that definitely is part of our work here in Fin Well: asking students, as being part of a Christian leader, like, how do your finances play into that?”

Ray said that while workshops have closed for the fall semester, Student Financial Wellness will be hosting an investor education workshop series in the spring semester. The program is located on the basement level of the Sid Richardson Building within the East Wing.

“I think it’s great if students can be open to recognizing, ‘Hey, I can receive help here at Baylor, and we’re a community here at Baylor,'” Ray said. “We want to build support systems for students.”