There are hundreds of bikes, Campus Area Bus Service buses and cars on the streets of Ohio State’s campus, but one OSU organization took to the streets Monday in golf carts to reward students while educating them about finances.
The Office of Student Life partnered with Student Legal Services to present Buck$ Bus, an event promoting Financial Awareness month, said Mandi Schweitzer, financial wellness outreach coordinator at the Student Wellness Center.
Buck$ Bus was inspired by the TV show “Cash Cab,” where unsuspecting passengers are asked trivia questions by a cab driver on the way to their chosen destination. They are rewarded with money for correct answers.
In the Buck$ Bus version, golf carts picked students up at the West Plaza of the Union from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Prizes – Scarlet and Gray Financial tumbler cups – were given to participants, who were asked questions about financial wellness as they were transported to class.
The event was funded through a partnership between the Student Life Student Wellness Center, Student Legal Services and Student Financial Aid, Schweitzer said.
The event aimed to engage students in learning more about financial awareness, said Molly Hegarty, the managing director of Student Legal Services.
“We are so passionate about financial wellness, and financial literacy as a part of that is because we tend to see students after they run into a problem,” she said. “Anything we can do on our end to prevent that from happening, we are interested in partnering with the university for those efforts.”
Adam Westgerdes, a second-year in zoology who participated in Buck$ Bus, said he thought the event was a good experience.
“On the way I learned some financial things like, just some random facts, that are actually really important in everyday life,” he said. “I’m pretty good with my finances already but I feel like it’s a good possibility for other people to learn because finances are really important, especially since college students have overwhelming debt.”
Sarah Flanagan, a fourth-year in chemistry, also participated in the event, and said it was an educational experience she would recommend to her friends.
“It was really cool. I learned a lot more information. I figured I’d know more than I guess I actually knew,” she said.
Bryan Ashton, assistant director of the Student Wellness Center, said he thinks the Buck$ Bus event localizes issues many students have while in college.
“We see what’s representative of a broader, national problem, and that is just a general lack of financial knowledge among college students on most scales,” Ashton said. “Sixty percent is the average on a financial literacy exam, and three out of five Americans cannot pass a basic financial literacy quiz.”
Both the Office of Student Life and Student Legal Services see multiple aspects of financial issues college students encounter, which can range from budget issues to problems with landlords and rents, Hegarty said.
“What we really see is that transition, so for a traditionally aged student coming to college, it’s a transition maybe between not having a lot of financial independence or making those decisions on a day-to-day basis to now having those decisions,” Schweitzer said. “For us, we see knowledge associated with making the right kind of decisions for them right now and for their future, so that’s what we want to help with.”
Students are able to schedule appointments with other students who work as financial coaches in the Wellness Center at the RPAC online for free, Schweitzer added.
“You can come in and, essentially, you have an hour with a coach who’s actually a student as well,” she said. “We use the peer-to-peer model, which we find incredibly valuable to this cause because you don’t have to talk to a full-time staff member or financial planner, you can talk to somebody who understands your experiences and is right there with you every step of the way.”
Eric Roytman, a first-year in business, said he thinks the university resources have helped him better understand his personal finances.
“Being at college has really made me think more about how I spend my own money,” Roytman said. “I think it’s really cool that Ohio State wants to help us get better at budgeting and spending wisely.”
Ritika Shah contributed to this article.