New peer mentoring program helps UMass Lowell students tackle financial hurdles impeding success and well-being

Craig Williams
Connector Contributor

High school and college education are extremely valuable today, but often  what they fail to teach students is basic financial literacy. College students across the country are often left hung out to dry, with $20,000 or more in debt, while possessing very little knowledge about how to make payments or save up for their future goals. UMass Lowell has begun an initiative to prevent students from facing this challenge alone.

The Money Management Mentors is an initiative run by directors Christine Robbins and Amy Liss, with the support of students including lead Money Management Mentor Luis Diaz. Financial literacy is more important than ever before today. College is more expensive, identity fraud is common and there is so much information out there; It is easy to be overwhelmed by it all.

UMass Lowell is acting to help ease the stress of navigating through tough personal financial decisions with a peer money-management mentorship program. Students professionally trained are available to help their peers with managing their money.

Diaz finds this issue very close to home. Like many other college students, Diaz burdened with the responsibility of paying for college and was forced to drop out of UMass Lowell for a few semesters because he was unable to come up with the money required to attend. Diaz is now back at UMass Lowell aided by a local fundraiser and additional scholarships. He has real-world experience developing good money management skills, and he is happy to share his knowledge.

The Money Management Program offers one on one peer mentors.

“The whole idea behind the peer mentorship is that we are all students trying to get each other to better ourselves,” Diaz said.

The peer program will not be able to release holds for students or do anything which would require the authority of a dean or advisor. With that said, the Money Management peer mentors carry a lot of useful information that can make a huge impact on any student’s future financial wellness.

Booking an appointment only takes a few clicks. Students that are interested can go to the Money Management page on the Solution Center website where there is a tab on the left side which has the option to book an appointment with a peer mentor.

Director Christine Robbins explained to the Connector that she is a big believer in the value of these appointments.

“We’ve found that students seem to relate more to one-on one’s with students than coming to the big bad financial-aid office,” Robbins said with a laugh.

Student Money Management Mentors specialize in questions such as, “How do I qualify for student loans? What is the difference between a grant and a loan? How do I find scholarships? How do I complete the FAFSA? How do I improve my credit score? How should I save up for a car?”. Students are encouraged to keep an eye out for group events offered by this initiative as well.

On the flip side, after about a year into this initiative, the Money Management Program is interested in hiring more paid mentors.

“We’re always looking for more [students],” Diaz said. “As we are trying to make this program grow, the more student employees that we have would be very beneficial.”

Anyone interested can contact Diaz and the Money Management team at any time to interview for the paid position. After the interview, the next step would be a training program.

Diaz is trying to coordinate and specialize in different roles for mentors. For example, Jordan Jones has recently been named the Money Management event coordinator and so far, has impressed Diaz a great deal. She coordinated an event recently called “UML Monopoly Night” which Diaz thought was a huge success.

Diaz encourages any students interested in becoming a Money Management Mentor to reach out to them as soon as possible.

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