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Liberty staff participate in White House education briefing on student financial success

Colleges and universities have traditionally focused on preparing graduates to enter the workforce, but too often curriculum does not provide students with the financial literacy to manage their personal finances nor help them plan for the costs of their education, which can have long-term impacts on their financial future.

Three Liberty University administrators, through a continuing relationship with the U.S. Department of Education, are working to change that.

Dr. Rob Ritz, Liberty’s chief financial officer, joined Ashley Reich, vice president of Student Financial Services, and Dr. Stacie Rhodes, executive director of the Center for Financial Literacy, at the White House briefing, Preparing Students for Financial Success, held Nov. 19. This national event addressed how colleges and universities can provide students with information on school-related costs and build a foundation for managing student loan obligations following graduation. Speakers included Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos; Andrew Olmen, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy and Deputy Director of the White House National Economic Council; Kathy Kraninger, Director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Jovita Carranza, Treasurer of the United States. The briefing was attended by representatives of partner institutions, organizations, think-tanks, and private sector companies.

Reich participated in a panel with administrators from Clark-Atlanta University, Indiana University, and College of the Alamo, who discussed best practices in financial literacy and the ways universities have integrated it into their curriculum. She shared about the importance of understanding the specific needs of students and making certain that financial education is responsive to their situations. She also spoke on the ways that Liberty provides customized information that helps students understand, manage, and plan for the repayment of their debt.

“Our invitation to participate in this briefing represents continued interest on the part of the Trump Administration and President Jerry Falwell to focus on the needs of students at faith-based institutions and a mutual desire to financially educate students,” Ritz said, noting that the U.S. Department of Education has also worked with Liberty’s academic administration, specifically Dave Brat, dean of the Liberty School of Business and a former U.S. Representative from Virginia’s 7th Congressional District.

At Liberty, financial literacy curriculum is embedded in all residential undergraduate degree programs through the Center for Financial Literacy. Students also learn biblically based financial management principles by attending workshops, events, and coaching sessions.

“Given the extensive discussion of financial management throughout Scripture, the lack of this education would be a significant omission from training our champions for their calling,” Rhodes said. “As a university committed to ‘Training Champions for Christ,’ how could we not dive into such an important topic that impacts every student on campus?”

Since early 2017, Liberty administrators have had an ongoing conversation with the U.S. Department of Education about federal regulations that affect colleges and universities nationwide. They have worked with government officials in eliminating regulations that have been increasingly costly and burdensome to institutions and have discussed expansion of Federal Pell Grants for students, improved benefits for military students, and stronger protection for schools with a Christian mission like Liberty.