Financial literacy is an important part of adulthood, but too often students head off to college without any sense of how to manage even the most basic finances—they may not have checking accounts, know how to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), or know how to apply for jobs. That’s where Financial Literacy and Money Education by Students (FLAMES) comes in.
Started in 2013, this student-led, student-driven program is designed to help maintain a financially literate campus through guidance and mentoring.
According to Shari Mathiesen, “the program’s first years were funded through a grant from USA Funds, in the 2016-2017 year the program was funded through the Resource Allocation Process (RAP) through the college and now is funded with support from Bank of America.” This is the second year of support from Bank of America with a grant of $5,000. Their contribution is important, as is the College’s RAP funding.
The money is used to assist FLAMES in hosting workshops throughout the year to educate students on financial opportunities such as filling out the FAFSA, applying for scholarships, learning about credit, getting jobs, and more. There are also workshops on banking and investing, home buying, car buying, and savings and budgeting.
The FLAMES program also offers the Money Savvy Scholars Program: when a student attends up to a minimum of three workshops and meets with a mentor at least three times, they will receive a $100 grant to assist with school. The grants the program receives from Bank of America assist with keeping the mentoring program going. Some of the goals the program assists students with include pulling credit reports, finding jobs, opening bank accounts, finding scholarships, and filling out the FAFSA.
The program is growing each year—last year, the student mentors were able to help 4,300 students through various workshops. The more money they’re able to receive through grants, the more workshops and outreach they’re able to do. Part of the money also goes to pay student workers, like Paige Richard, who is a student mentor with the program.
Richard says “it’s amazing to change someone’s life in one meeting, helping them to get a job or apply for financial aid to help assist in paying for college.”
Another new aspect of the program is that staff is making phone calls to delinquent loan borrowers to discuss repayment options with them, which has significantly lowered the default rate.
The FLAMES Program can be an excellent resource for new and seasoned college students alike to get a handle on financial literacy.
Visit TMCC FLAMES online for more information about the program.