The new club works to improve financial literacy on campus.
Barely half of college students say that they feel prepared to manage their money, according to a 2019 national survey.
The same report also showed 36% already have racked up over $1,000 in credit card debt; only 38% use a budget to manage their personal finances; and just 32% and 34% plan to start an emergency fund and regularly balance their checkbook, respectively.
“Financial literacy is critical for economic independence, regardless of the level of income,” says Dr. Philip Russel, dean of Jefferson’s School of Business. “Yet, it remains at a woefully low level in this country.”
A group of finance students set out to change the narrative. Last year, Shawn Johnson, Kyle Porpiglia, Michael Rodriguez and Rosario Tineo founded Jeff Invest—a club dedicated to helping all students improve their financial literacy.
The four seniors connected after taking several business classes together over the years. They all noticed a lack of basic financial knowledge among their peers, a point reinforced by the aforementioned survey of over 30,000 college students. Only about one-third reported having taken a personal finance course in high school.
“A lot of people come into school and don’t know how to build credit, create a budget or know what the student debt will mean for them after they graduate,” Tineo says. “You have to know how to manage your money to build wealth. When you don’t have this knowledge, it makes it harder later on in your adult life.”
When people graduate college, they often lack those financial literacy skills to thrive, Rodriguez agrees. “We wanted to tackle a problem and develop a community of like-minded people.”
With the support of finance professor Tim Mooney, the four started working to create the official student group in fall 2019. They began promoting Jeff Invest at an involvement fair and instantly had dozens of signups from students in medicine, fashion, architecture and more.
Generating interest from a variety of programs only makes the club stronger, Tineo says: “That’s our intent behind it—for everyone to have access to this information.”
In just a few months, they zipped from a seed of an idea to a full-blown club hosting events with industry speakers.
We’re here to create a community of students who want to take control of their finances. –Shawn Johnson
“These accomplishments in such a short period of time are impressive,” Mooney says, “not only because they represent the motivation and work ethic of these students, but also because they have built an organization with the potential to help students as they navigate their own personal finances and investing.”
For Jeff Invest’s first event in the winter, Jason Ray, founder and CEO of Zenith Solutions, discussed investing basics and steps to get started. About 30 students attended the talk by the financial services professional. The pandemic put any subsequent in-person programs on hold, but the group plans to roll out several virtual events later this semester.
All four students say creating Jeff Invest has strengthened their leadership and communication skills, and firmed up their understanding of often-complicated financial topics. They also hope their club takes some of the anxiety out of money matters.
“We’re here to fill these gaps,” Johnson says. “We’re here to create a community of students who want to take control of their finances.”
Both Russel and Mooney praise Jeff Invest, calling it a highly approachable way for students to learn more about finance and financial literacy.
“These topics can be intimidating to think about, and a student-led club can really help alleviate some of the anxiety or apprehension surrounding the bigger financial decisions we’ll make in life,” Mooney says. “There are a few business-related student organizations on campus with some nice opportunities for involvement, but Jeff Invest’s focus on personal finance and investing is something that can really benefit students across all areas of study.”
Email here for more information about Jeff Invest.