This past June, California Lutheran University’s Financial Aid office announced the release of their new online financial literacy program, SALT, which provides resources for financial decision-making during college and post-graduation.
“We at CLU have chosen to implement a new financial literacy program because we know how important and impactful having financial skills is for our students as it helps reduce stress and increases retention,” said Amy Landes, a financial aid counselor and loan coordinator.
Powered by the nonprofit American Student Assistance (ASA), SALT is an online program that offers students personalized financial counseling. It aims to boost students’ confidence by offering guidance on the most efficient ways to pay for school. Therefore, students can avoid the stress that comes along with paying for their education.
According to Senior Director of Student Success, Angela Naginey, Cal Lutheran loses about 7-10 percent of traditional undergraduate students term to term due to attrition. Of those 7-10 percent that leave the university before they graduate, over 70 percent leave because of financial reasons.
Students can use SALT to learn methods to pay for their education, manage loans and overall, manage money wisely, according to the Cal Lutheran website.
“I was surprised at how much information the program offered and I liked the variety it had,” senior Brianna Gomez said. “I found the information about spending and how to effectively manage your money helpful for me.”
To get started, students must go to the Cal Lutheran website and click on Financial Skills within the Financial Aid section under “Admissions and AID.” Once there, students are able to create a free account.
Because SALT offers multiple features, students are able to customize their account and select the information they want to see. The information shown on their portal will correspond to their interests, making the site more personalized.
“The most useful tool for me was the information on loan repayment because SALT helped me calculate how much I am able to pay each month for my student loans,” Gomez said. “However, even if you don’t have student loans or aren’t paying directly for school, there is still a bunch of useful information on there.”
Landes, who introduced SALT to the university, said she had been planning to use the program for five years before its official release. She said Financial Aid services had interviewed several different companies they were interested in, but chose this one as it had the best outward facing portal and is customizable for students.
As this is a fairly new program, Financial Aid services has planned various ways to effectively promote SALT to the student body.
“We have a multifaceted approach to spread awareness. We are working with offices all over campus, conducting email campaigns, being physically present at different events around campus to talk to students directly, meeting with Freshman Seminar classes and much more,” Landes said.
Freshman Seminar classes are the primary focus for promoting SALT. Even though the program is aimed to benefit all students, freshmen will be exposed to the program early in the year so they are familiar and aware of the benefits they can obtain from SALT.
Daniel Buonauro, a peer adviser and senate director for student government, said peer advisers received a training course on SALT in order to share the information with their incoming peer students.
“Every day we have students coming in telling us how stressed out they are about money and they don’t know what to do next. So, especially for the students who aren’t in the most preferable financial situation, using SALT to gain the confidence of understanding what’s happening financially will help them not feel as buried or overwhelmed,” said Landes.
For more information or to create a free account, visit the Financial Aid website at callutheran.edu.