Photo courtesy of USM Financial Services

By:  Hailey Wood, Staff Writer

Financial Services at USM has adopted a new website to educate students on financial literacy. iGrad, the new website, educates users about credit cards, high credit score, low credit score, loans, budgeting, financial aid, FAFSA, saving, scholarships and more. You can learn even more about these topics by taking courses anywhere from ten to thirty minutes long.

Elizabeth Sarazin, the scholarship and financial literacy coordinator at USM, along with Sheddy Agbonsalo, a graduate student, have been working together to spread the word about iGrad and other ways to learn more about financial literacy.

Prior to iGrad, USM had the program SALT, but the company dissolved. “The finance authority of Maine went out and researched and came up with this as an alternative. iGrad has been around for a long time, they’re really well known in the industry and when we previewed their offerings it looked really good” said Sarazin.

“USM and other Maine system schools found the program a good fit for students.” Sarazin said. “They try to fill this need for understanding not just student financial aid, but all of the different things that come up for the university community in terms of concerns about money.”

“If you have a loan, it can help you calculate all your loan,” Agbonsalo said. “If you put all your numbers in, it will tell you when you can pay for your student loans, the ways you can pay off your student loan and it calculates monthly.” Agbonsalo also works with University Credit Union for some of the financial literacy events on campus and helps promote their events as well.

Sarazin said that iGrad works to help people with financial literacy and to also prevent them from defaulting on their loans. You default on a loan when you fail to make your payments, this results in a lower credit score, which decreases your odds of future loans and could affect renting, getting a job, insurance, etc. “It’s good for everybody if people don’t default on loans and they understand what they’re getting into” Sarazin said.

The Financial Services office didn’t promote the website to students until Oct. 10, when they had tested it themselves, and were comfortable releasing it.

Sarazin also pays close attention to what kind of topics are important to students. “We’re trying to figure out what students are looking for and deliver content the best way we can. From what I can see from feedback from students who log in, the main areas of concern are paying for school and also managing saving and personal budgets.”

“I just think it’s a real benefit to students,” said Sarazin. “Once you stop being a student here it doesn’t go away, you’ve got that access even after you leave.”

Anyone who signs up at before Nov. 30 will be entered for a $500 scholarship. There is no cost to sign up.



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