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The College of New Rochelle and Signature Bank Collaborate to Improve Financial Literacy for Students

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NEW ROCHELLE, NY — There is an understandable focus on ensuring that students emerge from college not only with a degree but also with the skills and background to succeed in their careers.  With the further goal of ensuring that students have the understanding to navigate their financial affairs during and after their education, The College of New Rochelle and Signature Bank have partnered to offer students a new Credit for Credit program for financial literacy.

“The student years are an important time to start learning and implementing life-long best practices for managing finances. This new course helps students learn key strategies and arms them with the necessary tools to help them financially succeed throughout their lives,” explained Michael Schwartz, Director of Community Development – Senior Vice President, Signature Bank.  

Developed by Signature Bank in partnership with The College of New Rochelle, the pilot program offers financial education to students at the Brooklyn and Co-op City campuses of the College’s School of New Resources through six one-hour sessions.  The first session kicked off in March 2016. Students earned one credit for the class, paid for by the College, and in the process, gained access to critical and valuable financial planning information that will benefit them over the long-term.

“We hope this pilot course in Economic Literacy, sponsored by Signature Bank, will empower students to make better financial choices for themselves and their families and have greater control over their financial resources throughout their lives,” said Louis DeSalle, Associate Dean of Curriculum & Instruction at The College of New Rochelle School of New Resources.

“The long-term goal of financial literacy is to inform students on best practices for reducing or limiting borrowing now, so it will be easier to repay debt after completing their education. This is especially important if a student plans to further their studies through graduate programs; they can learn how to alleviate an unnecessary burden at a time when fewer financial grants will be available,” explained Carol O’Rourke, the program coordinator and course instructor. O’Rourke noted that some savvy students choose employment at organizations that will fund their graduate studies, but “this type of planning is not taught in school, so if people don’t get access to it on their own, they simply wouldn’t know about it.  It’s just not intuitive.”

The first four classes covered financial perspectives and provided everyday financial living information, including The Psychology of Money, which spells out why we spend; how to Live Like a Student – rather than like a rich celebrity; Basic Skills – such as saving, budgeting banking; and, Managing Credit and Debt – highlighting positive steps to gain and keep control. In an early assignment, students were asked to check their credit reports to learn how to decipher them. In another example, one student shared their bank statement and a discussion on bank fees ensued.

Later classes built on the terminology, concepts and planning established earlier in the program. The last two topics covered were Financial Aid – which provided insights into the cost of an education, and A Look Ahead to Your Future – which offered repayment options for student loans, and relevant information to ensure students have the financial knowledge to conduct their future affairs as informed adults.

“Students identify with the program and are directly seeing the relationship finances play with other aspects of life. It’s not a theoretical class that is separate from their everyday lives,” said O’Rourke