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University of Portland is promoting a new financial literacy program, offered free to students and alumni who want to learn better money management techniques.

The school is among 700 colleges and universities in the country to offer CashCourse, a free online resource that trains students to make positive choices on financial decisions that could affect them for many years after graduation.

“Oftentimes, students’ parents have handled their finances and budgeting up to this point,” said Russell Seidelman, assistant director of outreach in the University of Portland Office of Financial Aid. “Now, many students are taking on debt with student loans. CashCourse can help them learn how to manage and pay down that debt, and how to budget and plan for life after college.”

The Denver-based National Endowment for Financial Education launched the program in 2007 in response to the growing need for reliable financial education resources for college students. Today, the program is used in financial aid and other offices at colleges and universities — public and private, large and small — across the country.

“There clearly is a demand and need for this type of resource, seeing that CashCourse has reached 700 schools in five years,” says Sara McHugh, NEFE’s board chairwoman.

McHugh, chief operating officer at OCP, which publishes the Catholic Sentinel, grew up near University of Portland, a Catholic school of about 4,000 students. Although her college scholarship took her elsewhere, some of her siblings attended the University of Portland on scholarships, and she understands the new challenges facing students currently enrolled at the school.

“When I was in college, most of the financial issues I faced came after graduation—finding a job, paying the rent and planning for a family down the road,” says McHugh. “Now, many students are getting into financial trouble during college with student loan debt and credit cards. The sooner we can reach them, the better off they will be when they graduate.”

The program provides insight on managing student loans and paying for college, and addresses the range of additional money management issues that affect students’ overall financial lives, from using credit cards responsibly to finding a job and living on their own. The program teaches college students financial basics such as saving, investing, budgeting and debt.

Seidelman is using CashCourse to meet an immediate need: Helping the university’s low-income students develop the personal finance skills they need to fulfill eligibility requirements for Oregon’s Matched College Savings Program, which helps college students pay for their education.

As the new school year kicks off, Seidelman said he plans to highlight the online program at the University of Portland’s October financial aid session for current students, and to include CashCourse in presentations at area high schools. Anyone can access the site at

CashCourse is offered free to all public and private nonprofit colleges and universities in the United States.