IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Universities Adopt iGrad for Student Financial Planning

Several universities this year have adopted a personal financing tool to share with students that assesses spending behaviors and then offers personalized guidance on budgeting and managing student loans.

A person holding cash and using a calculator.
The student financial literacy platform iGrad is partnering with colleges and universities to provide students with digital resources and guidance on budgeting, student loan debt management and building good credit.

According to a news release, iGrad software was adopted earlier this month by Cleveland State University in Ohio as part of the university’s TRIO Student Support Services program, which assists more than 500 first-generation and/or low-income students to graduate. The tool was also recently adopted by Wake Forest University, Central Michigan University and Porterville College in California, among others this year.

“iGrad was selected due to its ease of use, content available and the ability for our students to navigate incredible resources at their own pace,” CSU’s Student Support Services Assistant Director Cullin Fish said in a public statement. “Financial wellness and the skills iGrad showcases are instrumental to student success due to the impact that financial challenges can have on a student’s everyday life.”

iGrad Executive Vice President Kris Alban said the program uses artificial intelligence and algorithms to help paint a picture of students’ financial profiles so it can give them personalized financial advice. It also offers quizzes, videos, articles and other multimedia resources for financial education, in addition to a student loan “tracking tool” that estimates a student’s monthly repayments after graduation.

“We’ve been developing this for about 13 years now, and we put out a new release every week with improvements and it’s constantly evolving,” he said. “The platform itself is hyper-personalized to each user, based on their interactions with the platform. We find out a little bit about each user through what we call a ‘financial wellness checkup’ at the beginning, and that instantly personalizes the entire platform to that user’s needs and goals.”

According to U.S. News and World Report, financial technology companies are playing an increasingly important role in providing guidance on student loan repayment and expense management. Several fintech companies today — such as LendKey, CommonBond, Gradifi, Payitoff and Credible — offer online services and applications that compare refinancing and repayment options.

However, Alban said iGrad’s personalization features help set it apart from other similar financial education tools.

He noted the platform offers financial behavior assessments with insights into users’ spending behaviors, similar to Myers-Briggs or other personality tests, to identify whether a student is saving and budgeting well or is an impulsive spender.

“That’s one of the things our clients typically choose us for,” he said. “Knowing more about the psychology behind their personal finance decisions helps them understand how to improve some things.”

Alban said iGrad’s user base has experienced significant growth during the pandemic, as universities and colleges look to provide more online courses for remote and hybrid education, as well as other virtual student services.

“Many schools are starting to offer more and more virtual classes, which paves the way for a solution like ours used in an online setting,” he said.

He said additional partnerships are expected in the months ahead, but details were pending as of this week.
Brandon Paykamian is a staff writer for Government Technology. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism from East Tennessee State University and years of experience as a multimedia reporter, mainly focusing on public education and higher ed.