Published: Feb. 27, 2009

MSU financial wellness pilot program offers students counseling, resources

Contact(s): Jason Cody Media Communications office: (517) 432-0924 cell: (734) 755-0210, Dennis Martell Olin Student Health Center office: (517) 432-1031

EAST LANSING, Mich. — In an effort to help students overcome financial woes, Michigan State University has launched a pilot program that provides one-on-one counseling and resources.


The Financial Wellness Education and Counseling program, begun in January at the Olin Student Health Center, was borne out of a university student survey in which more than 50 percent of students said financial problems or concerns were affecting their academic or personal lives.


“Stress has been the top cause of academic harm as reported by MSU students,” said Dennis Martell, health education coordinator at Olin. “Other major universities have successfully adopted financial wellness services as a component to offer students as part of an overall student wellness. We felt there was a need to fill and are working to help students overcome these hurdles.”


In the “MSU Student Perceptions of Problems and Use of University Programs and Services Survey,” completed during the 2008 spring semester, 53 percent of students reported experiencing problems or concerns with their finances. Also, 40 percent of students ranked it as their most serious concern. A total of 1,178 students responded to the survey.


Martell and Brian Winters, a financial wellness counselor, have been holding about 10 appointments a week. Problems range from credit card debt to repayment of student loans to budgeting. During the one-on-one meetings, students are given advice and connected to resources that can help them resolve their issues.


There is no charge for a visit, but appointments are limited. The program cannot assist students in applying for loans or provide other financial aid services.


“There is significant stress caused by financial concerns and this can have a very real impact on the physical, mental and academic wellness of students,” Winters said. “Through financial wellness counseling, we can provide the education, resources and tools students need to successfully address their financial stressors.”


Students interested in setting up an appointment can call (517) 884-6565 or e-mail


For more on the Olin Student Health Center and its programs, visit




Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

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