Financial education, sometimes called financial literacy, is about more than learning how to create a budget. It’s about understanding credit scores, student loans, interest rates, and most importantly, what it will cost you and your family to attend not just NYU, but any college.
We asked Natasha Bean, head of NYU’s Office of Financial Education, to answer five questions about what her office does and how prospective—and current—students can take advantage of this valuable source of information and advice.
What is the NYU Office of Financial Education and what does it do?
We try to help prospective students and their families understand the cost commitment of NYU, whether or not they apply for financial aid, and how to budget for that commitment. We look at the options they have and help them plan for their college expenses. Also, we answer questions about what they would have to do to qualify for scholarships, how to search for outside scholarship funds, and explain different public service loan-forgiveness programs that students may qualify for.
What other types of information does your
We try to give students a broader understanding of general financial skills, such as explaining interest rates on student loans, discussing credit cards, how to access their credit reports, and how to understand their credit scores.
What is the most important thing for students to know about financing their education at NYU?
We want them to know that many of our students receive some form of financial assistance to help pay for their NYU education, whether it be federal aid, state aid, scholarships, grants, or loans. We help them understand the different aspects of these financing methods, such as the fact that most NYU financial aid scholarship awards are need based, and we explain which other awards have to be repaid and which do not.
What can students do to prepare themselves financially for college?
Prior to coming here, they should weigh their options, and our office created a module, Understanding the Cost of Financing College, to help them. This is an interactive course that will teach them everything they need to know to make sound financial decisions when choosing a school. They and their parents can also log on to our free iGrad platform, a money management tool that lets them compare financial aid offers and explains interest rates, PLUS loans, and cost of attendance. In addition, the platform defines financial terms, so that when they get their financial aid award letter, they’ll have a better chance of understanding it.
Another thing students can do is to start looking for scholarships early in their high school careers. While they won’t be able to apply to colleges as a freshman or sophomore, they’ll see, for example, that certain scholarships require 20 hours per month of community service. Then they have a chance to position themselves in a way that they may qualify.
What are some questions you wish students
We wish students and families would have an open discussion about their finances before students start their college search. In this way, students will be better prepared and have time to obtain tax returns and other documents they will need throughout the application process.
We know that money can be a touchy subject, but students need to be aware of what their parents can potentially contribute to their education. With an understanding of their family’s overall financial picture, they can have smart, realistic financial expectations going in.