University Relations and Communications

MSU Billings receives $71,000 to launch financial literacy program

November 14, 2012 



Leslie Weldon, Financial Aid and Scholarships, 657-1617
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269


MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — Montana State University Billings was recently awarded a grant of nearly $71,000 from the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education to institute a financial literacy program.


Samantha Thatcher helping a student

The program, to be led out of the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, will be a collaborative effort to not only reach students, but provide training to faculty and staff so the entire university can help provide information about the importance of managing money. From orientation, to academic advising to first-year seminar classes, students will now find financial literacy a component of their experience at MSU Billings.


“Students are encouraged to make wise choices in their academic studies and we need to make sure they make wise choices when it comes to managing their money,” said Leslie Weldon, director of Financial Aid and Scholarships at MSU Billings. “Investing in college is an important decision and we are committed to educating students so they have solid financial habits in school and beyond.”


Weldon said the local initiative mirrors the commitment by the university and the Montana University System to address affordability and student debt load.  The key, she said, will be a university-wide collaboration to reach as many students as possible. 


The demographics of MSU Billings’ student population is a perfect fit for financial literacy awareness. About 63 percent of the students attending the university receive some form of financial assistance and 53 percent of those students are eligible for federal Pell grants with no expected contribution from their families. The significance of good financial literacy, Weldon said, will be to help students understand on how to manage their finances as effectively as possible.


“We all want our students to succeed academically,” she said. “This effort will ensure they can succeed financially as well.”

Through training with other departments at the university in financial literacy, MSU Billings will create an environment to help students understand financial literacy.  Some of the specific goals include:

  • Broad training for faculty, staff and student government leaders.
  • Introduction of financial literacy concepts at orientation to students and parents.
  • Increased knowledge of underrepresented students and their families of postsecondary educational financial options.
  • Increased knowledge of veterans about postsecondary educational financial options.
  • Increased knowledge of university professionals about default prevention and financial aid processes.
  • Expand and strengthen the role of College Success Specialist positions so that financial literacy information is a part of the first-year experience course, ASC 111.
  • Establish and foster relationships between MSU Billings and area tribal colleges and build peer- mentoring programs for minority students through the MSU Billings Diversity Center.
  • Create a university-wide advisory committee to coordinate financial literacy education activities.

The award of $70,990 to MSU Billings was one of eight made to Montana University System campuses through College Access Challenge Grant funding from the Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education. The MSU Billings award was the second largest.


PHOTO ABOVE: Samantha Thatcher, a financial aid specialist at MSU Billings, helps a student with a financial aid question at the university recently. MSU Billings has been awarded a grant of nearly $71,000 from the Montana Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education to institute a financial literacy program.