Monday, January 11, 2016

Getting Campus Buy-In for Your Financial Wellness Program

Submitted by Michiale Schneider, Trainer, Great Lakes Educational Loan Services, Inc.

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it takes a village”, right? When it comes to campus programming it’s no different. Having campus “buy-in” from your upper administration can make your job of pulling off a new program—such as a financial wellness initiative—much easier than going it alone.

There are numerous benefits to getting buy-in.  By taking the steps to cultivate support you could gain an increase in resources. With  more people interested in your project you could find yourself with  a lighter workload! Buy-in also gets everyone on the same page, as a team  you’re sending the same message, “this is important”. Having the upper administration’s support could also mean having faculty on board—and that may get you into classrooms as a guest speaker.

So how can you get people to hop on board with that great idea you have?

1.       Start by building a base of support. Use facts to help people understand the importance of what you’re trying to do.  Take the time to have one-on-one conversations with people, too. It’s time-consuming but it will give you an opportunity to “lobby” your position.  Keep it simple—you don’t have to go into all of the details right away.

2.       Anticipate objections—and be prepared to respond. This seems obvious, but you can never prepare enough. You want to be sure you acknowledge & listen to everyone’s viewpoint so you can address each one. For example– someone might have an objection about the amount of time and number of staff you’ll need to develop and implement your program—or how you will get students to attend. Be prepared to discuss those factors to alleviate their concerns.

3.       Highlight the value of your program. Your program will have benefits for your students, but it will also have benefits for your institution. Communicate the positive outcomes you anticipate. Share success stories from other schools with similar initiatives. Show your institution the “what’s in it for them”. Connect the project to your office’s (or institution’s) mission statement or annual goals. For example, if you’re proposing a financial wellness initiative, the institutional benefits could be a lower cohort default rate, higher retention rate, higher institutional receivables and alumni contributions…just to name a few!

In summary, find ways to make your initiative about “we versus me”. Through your financial wellness program your students will leave school with a lower debt burden, better credit scores, better rates on loans and credit cards and the ability to give back as alums. It’s a win win all around!

So don’t be afraid to try new initiatives! 

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