An education in medicine and the health sciences is a major investment of time, effort and money. To help students manage the latter, the DMU Office of Financial Aid offers a Smart Cents Series that explores a wide variety of financial topics, such as budgeting, loan repayment, debt management and identify theft prevention.
“The Smart Cents Series was created to provide our students with financial literacy skills. Our goal is to educate our students through a variety of resources including large-group presentations, small-group workshops, one-on-one counseling and other efforts to reach as many students as possible,” says Renee Gookin, financial literacy administrator. “The Smart Cents Series is our way of giving students the information and tools they need to be financially successful during their time here at DMU and after graduation.”
This year, the financial aid staff added a new incentive for students who attend the series: two $2,500 scholarships. One scholarship will be awarded this spring via a random drawing of students who attend at least two sessions in the series; the other will be given to a student selected based upon his or her essay on the positive impact of one of the session discussions.
The series’ latest session on Jan. 25 featured a panel of experts: Jon Heim, LUTCF, a financial planner with Charterpoint Wealth Strategies; Kate Heineman, D.O., a 2009 DMU graduate and assistant professor and chair of the University’s department of osteopathic manual medicine; Michelle Price, ABR, CNE, CRS, a real estate agent with Iowa Realty; and Jeremiah Boeckermann, assistant vice president of the private client group, US Bank. Students asked questions ranging from options for managing a home purchase to the best time to refinance their student loans.
“We attended not only to get some of our own personal questions answered but to see what other students who are in the same situation as ourselves would be asking,” says second-year osteopathic medical student David Lewis, who attended the session with his wife, Alyssa, and their three-month-old daughter, Lucy. “Having an example like Dr. Heineman there to show us that it all can be done was very encouraging and helpful. I feel more confident about my future finances and how to handle them moving forward.”
The next Smart Series session for DMU students, “Know Your Numbers,” will occur on Feb. 7 and 21 at noon in the Academic Center Lecture Hall 1. Staff will discuss how students can figure their loan debt, set up a budget to track and potentially reduce expenses, and how to differentiate a “want” from a true need.