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College students today are graduating with more debt than ever before. As such, it is critical that our graduates are equipped with the right skills and frame of mind to manage their finances. This includes understanding their income, taxes, and expenses; managing debt; budgeting; saving; and retirement planning. Money management can be intimidating for anyone, regardless of background or education. While online resources are made available to our students, these resources are often overlooked, and do not necessarily set out to engage students or address the issues they may face in a convincing or compelling way. Most of the financial resources easily accessible on the web and on VCU’s sites are intended for undergraduate students. However, graduate students and in particular students in the health sciences professional programs (medicine, dentistry, pharmacy) can accrue a tremendous amount of debt, but are not exposed to as many mandatory or voluntary budgeting and financial resources. The RAM$mart Financial Wellness Program is a set of online modules that will allow students the opportunity to learn the basic principles of money and debt management. We are focusing this phase on professional students in the Schools of Medicine, Pharmacy, and Dentistry, with the intent to engage the whole VCU student population in the future. The RAM$mart Financial Wellness Program will include modules on a variety of money management topics designed to get the attention of students and to provide them with practical steps they can take at the beginning of, and throughout, their graduate professional education to minimize debt accumulation. There will also be modules designed to inform students of various loan payback options upon their degree completion, and of available community and online financial resources. Through attention-grabbing and entertaining modules, including such things as humorous video snippets and interactive questions, students’ awareness of budgeting and financial responsibility will increase significantly.
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VCU L. Douglas Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs Publications