By Malcolm Moutenot ’17
Williams students will have several opportunities this year to improve their financial literacy, thanks to a new program called MOOLA.
The program offers both in-person sessions and online training on a variety of financial topics, including how to make the most of meal-plan dollars, understanding the tax system, paying for graduate school, and the art of negotiation. Six sessions have been scheduled for the fall semester, with another four planned for Winter Study and seven in the spring semester.
“With MOOLA, we’re proactively speaking about real issues and preparing our students to be fiscally responsible,” says Rosanna Reyes, associate dean of the college and dean of first-gen initiatives. “Students can spend an hour at one of our events and walk away with a practical tool to improve their financial well-being.”
At a recent session, students learned the ins and outs of the college’s meal plans—including the cost per meal and cost per missed meal—and how those costs relate to financial aid.
“It’s reassuring to know all the different ways I can pay off my balance that don’t involve altering my meal plan,” said one first-year student who attended the session. “It was so helpful to understand the differences between meal plans—some just didn’t make sense for me, financially.”
To increase participation, the program offers food and prizes at each session. MOOLA also makes available to students CashCourse.org, a free, web-based education tool run by the National Endowment for Financial Education.
A collaboration among campus offices including the dean of the college, student life, human resources, the health center and the economics department, MOOLA is intended for students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. Ultimately, the goal of the program is to alleviate the potential burden of financial stressors at school and at home.
“In the time I’ve been at Williams, I’ve met students who can do multivariable calculus but know nothing about variable-rate credit cards,” says Ben Leary ’20, who serves on MOOLA’s planning committee. “We need to do more to promote open discussions on issues of personal finance to ensure people can make informed decisions—just like we do for everything else at Williams.”
To learn more about MOOLA and view a list of sessions, visit http://student-life.williams.edu/moola/.