Innovative money management center wins state award

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The University of North Texas Student Money Management Center, which opened in 2005 to provide students with tools and solutions to achieve financial freedom and financial literacy, has received the 2007 Star Award from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

The first center of its kind at a U.S. college or university, UNT's Student Money Management Center takes "an innovative approach" to serving students, and "has data to demonstrate that it is making a difference in the lives of students," said Dr. Bonita Jacobs, UNT vice president for student development, who developed the idea of the center.

"Representatives from many campuses have visited ours to learn how to create their own money management centers, and our staff members have made many presentations," she said. "We're really proud that our center has won the Star Award. The things the staff are doing are truly cutting edge."

Administered by UNT's Division of Student Development, the Student Money Management Center offers workshops and online resources on a wide range of money management topics, such as budgeting, apartment leases, credit cards and credit reports, college and living expenses, car buying, student loan repayment strategies and affording study abroad programs.

Working closely with UNT's Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships, the center often targets workshops to certain groups, such as seniors planning for graduation and new freshmen. The center also provides unlimited personal financial counseling to students and administers two loan programs to help address unanticipated expenses that may endanger a student's enrollment at UNT.

Paul Goebel, the center's director, said the Star Award "recognizes both the vision of Dr. Jacobs to establish the center and the innovative spirit of our team to create programs meeting the financial literacy needs of our students."

Established in 2001, the Star Award recognizes higher education institutions, organizations, groups, and individuals for their exceptional contributions toward one or more of the goals of Closing the Gaps by 2015, the plan for higher education in Texas set by the coordinating board in 2000.

The plan establishes four goals: to close the gaps in participation by enrolling 630,000 more students; to close the gaps in success by increasing the number of degree and certificates from higher education institutes by 50 percent; to close the gaps in excellence by increasing the number of nationally recognized programs or services at colleges and universities in Texas; and to close the gaps in research by increasing the level of federal science and engineering research funding to Texas institutions by 50 percent to $1.3 billion. Each year, the Star Award process focuses on a different aspect of Closing the Gaps.

The Student Money Management Center was the third UNT program or office to be nominated for a Star Award during the past three years. In 2005, UNT's Multicultural Scholastic Award Program, a recruitment and retention program that provides financial assistance to academically talented students from diverse backgrounds, was nominated. In 2006, the recruiting and retention program for the Department of Computer Science and Engineering was a finalist.

Earlier this year, the Student Money Management Center received a 2007 Gold Excellence Award from the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. NASPA, the nation's largest professional association of student affairs administrators in higher education, affirms the commitment of student affairs to educating the whole student and integrating student life and learning.

UNT News Service Phone Number: (940) 565-2108