You Savvy Devil

Savē: Financial Literacy at Dickinson

Author: schreire (page 1 of 3)

Savvy Devils: Miray

Miray Kaplangi, Class of 2018


Q: How do you define financial literacy, and what topics interest you most?

A:  I define financial literacy as awareness of how you manage your finances. I most interested in savings, because I like to plan for the future.


Q: What is your personal money philosophy?

A: Buyer’s remorse is real! Although it doesn’t always work, I try to force myself to question my shopping habits.


Q: Do you keep a budget? Why or why not?

A: I never kept a budget at Dickinson because life on campus is already planned out. We don’t need to buy extra things. Nevertheless, when I graduate I will need to keep a budget the first couple of months.


Q: Have any events at Dickinson inspired you to change your financial habits?

A: Joining the Savē Devils at Dickinson pushed me to become aware of not only my financial habits but also the generational problems. Pop-Up events that Savē helped set-up, from budgeting, to saving to financial scams raised my awareness in what I could be doing to help myself save in the future.


Q: What financial literacy-related advice would you give first year students?

A: If first years want more exposure to financial literacy, I would recommend them to join the Savē Devils! Even if they don’t have time to join the team, first years should attend the Pop-up events. If they don’t have any questions, they can still come to events and let the financial literacy team take care of the rest. However, if they have more specific questions they should never shy away from the financial aid office.

Savvy Devils: Sara

Sara Johnson, Class of 2018


Q: How do you define financial literacy, and what topics interest you most?

A: I think i am still learning how to define financial literacy because there is so much to learn based on changing regulations or expectations. However, to keep it simple, it is important that I know the basics and see how it has a personal connection to me.

For student loans, this could be knowing how much I owe, making a repayment reschedule, knowing my point of contact, how I can pay my loans quicker, etc.

Recently, some of the YouTube videos I watch, like The Financial Diet, and other articles mention that it important to start investing as a young adults. Although, I am still trying to learn more and actively participate in investing, it has been great to connect with people who know more about this subject.

Other financial interests-Also, I have read articles and watched documentaries about cryptocurrency  like Bitcoin. On campus, I attended the panel on the subject, which provided more information on the future and skepticism of cryptocurrency. Very interesting panel.  Overall, student loans, investing, and cryptocurrency are the topics I am most interested in now.



Q: What is your personal money philosophy?

A: I am not sure where I heard this quote, but it said “spend money on experiences not things”. There are exceptions to this statement- if you need to buy a TI-83 calculator, for example, for your career path or personal happiness–buy it. Saving money is great, but don’t skip out on opportunities that could help you find your career path or deepen your relationship with friends, family, etc.

It is important to invest in yourself. I am still learning this, but it is important to do this for your personal well-being and future.

Lastly, If you have a tendency to spend money when you have quick access to it, put it in a separate account so that you will have to think about using the money when logging in.



Q: Do you keep a budget? Why or why not?

A: In the traditional sense, I don’t think I have a complete budget because I don’t allocate a certain amount of money to a category. I base my “budget” on how much I can spend and what I want to save. So, I base my purchases from that amount.  When I want to purchase something, I weigh the pros and cons of each item.

When it comes to large purchases like college tuition, I look for scholarships that would help.



Q: Did you have exposure to financial literacy when you were growing up?

A: Most of my financial literacy comes from YouTube videos, articles, and talking with people who are familiar with the subject. This happened closer to the end of my high school and college days.



Q: Have any events at Dickinson inspired you to change your financial habits?

A: I wouldn’t say these events completely changed my habits completely, but I learn a lot from the Loan Information session and the Bitcoin panel. Also, being an executive member of an organization taught me how to write and organize a budget.



Q: What financial literacy-related advice would you give first year students/students in general?

A: Six years ago, the national student debt reached 1 trillion dollars. On this day, there were many organizations that wanted to educate students and the general public about loans, debts, payment options, Department of Education and more. Although this topic can seem daunting (it can be!), it is important to reach out to people to understand how you can address your loans. Even if you don’t have loans, it is important to understand this since it is a national issue. Reaching out to people can be helpful in other topics of financial areas too.

Calling the Class of 2018!


Dear Seniors,

How did the past four years fly by so quickly?! It’s almost time for graduation, and for some Dickinsonians, that also means it will soon be time to make a first student loan payment!

You remember all of the details from your Entrance Counseling four years ago, right? 

…kidding, obviously. (If you remember all the details, we’re impressed.)

There are a lot of things to consider when it comes to student loan repayment, but it all boils down to a few highlights. Come to a 30-minute (or less) Student Loan Exit Counseling Workshop to get the details.

Workshops will be held:

May 3rd @ 12:15pm, HUB 205                                     May 3rd @ 12:45pm, HUB 205

May 16th @ 11:00am, HUB 201                                  May 16th @ 11:30am, HUB 201

May 17th @2:00pm, HUB 201                                      May 17th @ 2:30pm, HUB 201


All sessions are open, but RSVPs are strongly encouraged. Watch your Dickinson email for RSVP details.


See you soon,

Your Financial Aid Office

Savvy Devils: Ralph

Ralph Hernandez, Class of 2018


Q: How do you define financial literacy, and what topics interest you most?

A: Financial literacy is a skill set that helps individuals make informed and proper decisions regarding their finances. As of now, the topics that I enjoy learning regarding this area is student loan and credit management.


Q:  What is your personal money philosophy?

A: A “money philosophy” that I learned from my parents is, “Don’t spend money that you do not have.” At face value this a simple concept however to actually execute it requires self-discipline. For me it is about reflecting on what you really need versus what you really want.


Q: Do you keep a budget? Why or why not?

A: I have a budget that I monitor and I frequently check to make sure my credit is within range that I am comfortable with. I keep a budget because this ensures that I will have enough funds for things that are necessary in the future.


Q: Did you have exposure to financial literacy when you were growing up?

A: My family and myself are immigrants therefore our financial literacy regarding in the context of U.S. was limited. However, we learned from experience on what works best for us. With the knowledge we learned, we were able to make better decisions.


Q: Have any events at Dickinson inspired you to change your financial habits?

A: At the beginning of my senior year I learned that one of my loan packages was accruing interest-I was not aware of this. I did my own research and I calculated that everyday I was accruing interest of 25 cents for two and a half years. The total interest accumulated was about $225. Luckily, I save some funds from my internship and paid of the interest and principal.


Q: What financial literacy-related advice would you give first year students?

A: I believe first year students should learn to become more proactive with their finances and loans. Credit and debt is how our economy functions therefore I think it is essential to understand how we as individuals play a role.

We don’t mean to scare you, but…

Scams and identity theft are all too real, and they can have serious financial repercussions!

This Thursday, three experts will teach us how to spot a scam from a mile away and steer clear of that mess. And in case it happens anyway (because, hey, life) a fourth expert will tell us exactly what to do if we’re victimized by a fraudster.

Join us April 26th at 11:50 am in the HUB Mary Dickinson Room.

We promise, this is the good kind of scary. 

Savvy Devils: Madi

We asked some seniors about their experiences with financial education, and we’re excited to share their words in our new series, Savvy Devils.


Introducing our first Savvy Devil –

Madison Jaronski, Class of 2018!


Q: How do you define financial literacy, and what topics interest you most?

A: Financial literacy is the knowledge and understanding of how money works. Further, financial literacy is having the skills to manage one’s financial resources effectively to achieve a lifetime of financial security.

As a soon-to-be college graduate, a topic that has been at the forefront of my mind is repaying student loans. For example, when did “oh I only have 20k instead of 37k (the national average in 2016) of student debt” become a good thing? Because typically that is still $200 dollars each month for ten years.

Another topic that interests me is budgeting, especially for flexibility and freedom. I always strive to maintain a substantial savings account because you never know what may loom around the corner… or when you may come across a certain something that you must have.


Q: What is your personal money philosophy?

A: Treat your credit card like it’s your debit card.


Q: Do you keep a budget? Why or why not?

A: Until recently I have never kept a formalized budget but I have always been mindful of my spending. For example, at the beginning of each semester I would figure out my semester income (Residential Life stipend) and then my semester expenses (Sorority dues). Additionally, about once a week I will check my bank accounts and credit card balances to remain mindful of how much spending money I have. But in preparation for life beyond the limestone, I have worked with my parents and grandparents to develop an extensive monthly budget, which aligns with my payday and time-sensitive expenses such as rent and student loans.


Q: Did you have exposure to financial literacy when you were growing up?

A: I was very fortunate growing up to be surrounded by parents and grandparents who placed great emphasis on teaching me and my siblings financial literacy. Ever since I can remember, every birthday check or special occasion check I received (up until I was 16) would go straight into a savings account that my parents started for me when I was born. Additionally, all of the cash that my siblings and I accumulated throughout the year would go right to “Bank of Mom”. She would keep our cash in secret individual containers and come summer vacation, we would be able to see how much we had to spend. While I did not always enjoy making “voluntary” deposits to the “Bank of Mom”, it taught an invaluable lesson that money does not need to be spent the minute you receive it.


Q: Have any events at Dickinson inspired you to change your financial habits?

A: While I have attended a few financial literacy events on campus and have taken bits and pieces away from each, I have benefited the most from the relationship that I have with my financial advisor, Rebecca Schreiber-Reis. Being able to talk with Rebecca at the onset of each year about my tuition and loan status made the process more tangible, more real. I think sometimes, as students, we forget about the thousands and thousands of dollars that are required to maintain our “Dickinson” lifestyles. I have heard so many of my senior friends, who live off campus, talk about how much groceries cost or how they didn’t think to plan for all the other small expenses that come with living off campus. So remember, those lines on our tuition statements (“Stafford Loan” or “Federal Loan”) do not represent monopoly money, it is actual money and will become oh so very real, very fast, so be prepared.


Q: What financial literacy-related advice would you give first year students?

A: Start building your G-Man and Alibi’s budget now… Just kidding! But think about what matters to you. What do you want to get out of your college experience? Is it saving money for abroad? Is it building a savings account so you can buy your own car after graduation and not have to use your parents’ ’98 Toyota Camry? Give it some thought and do not hesitate to seek advice. No one expects you to know everything about money but everyone is expected to try.



Budgeting for Your Home Life

Dickinson’s Human Resource Services Department has invited a representative from a local credit union to discuss budgeting for your personal goals. This free event is open to students in addition to employees. Email to sign up – it isn’t too late!

Location: HUB room 201-202

Date & Time: April 23rd, Noon – 1 pm


Savvy and Busy

The Savē calendar has been full this week!

On Tuesday, April 10th, we welcomed local financial adviser Lindsey Ciarrocca, who talked about  financial planning considerations for women. Lindsey pointed out the importance of identifying our long-term financial goals so we can take steps now to make goals our reality.

One of my favorite slides from Lindsey’s presentation illustrated the impact eating out for lunch a few times a week can have on our long-term savings goals.


Special thanks to the Women’s & Gender Resource Center for co-sponsoring this fantastic lecture, and thanks to Lindsey for volunteering her time!

Thursday we hosted a tax workshop which was meant to help attendees feel more confident about preparing their tax returns. We had three fantastic volunteers from the Money In Your Pocket (VITA) tax preparation program here at Dickinson, and quite a few students stayed for the hour-long workshop.

A few of our tax workshop attendees.

 If you missed this event, you can find the outline we used here.

Special thanks to Anna, Fangzhou, and Jordan for their really excellent assistance. We could not have helped so many people without you!


Thursday evening, Rebecca was invited to speak with the Trendsetters, Dickinson’s first-generation student group. We had a lively and engaging discussion on credit & debt, student loans, and budgeting basics.

Notes from our presentation on credit scores.

Thanks to the Trendsetters for inviting us, and for such a productive conversation! (Also, thanks for the Miseno’s pizza.)

We hope you’ll join us later this month as we focus on preparing finances for studying abroad, and learn how to protect ourselves from a wide variety of scams – and the financial fallout that can result!


Tax Return DIY

The deadline to file taxes for 2017 is April 17, 2018.

With one week left to file, you might feel overwhelmed – but don’t panic! Many students will be able to use the step-by-step instructions below to get started and file their federal return for free.

Step 1: Do you need to file?

The Interactive Tax Assistant will help you find out.

Review your 2017 earnings and take this quiz from the IRS:


Step 2: Gather your documents and information.

You will need:

  1. Your Social Security Number
  2. Your Permanent mailing address
  3. W2 forms from every employer you had in 2017
  4. A record of cash earned from odd jobs, for which you will not receive an income tax form
  5. Determine if you had health coverage for the entirety of 2017
  6. Your bank account information (for electronic refund); you’ll need the financial institution’s routing number and your personal account number, both easily found on a blank check


In rare cases, a student might need:

  • 1099-MISC forms if you worked for someone but were not considered an employee
  • 1099-E if you made any payments on your student loans in 2017
  • 1099-INT or 1099-DIV if you received interest or dividend payments from investments in your name


If you have special circumstances, including but not limited to the following list, please see a tax professional as soon as possible:

 If you have dependents.

If you have interest or dividend income.

If you have small business income, a capital gain, or other types of income beyond those listed on a W2, 1099-MISC, or cash payments.

If you made payments on a student loan in 2017, or if you want to try to claim any education-related tax credits. (Learn more here:

If you feel any part of these instructions doesn’t fully capture your unique situation.

Step 3: Determine your filing status.

You can use the IRS Tax Assistant to determine your status:

In some cases, you will be able to skip this step and rely upon the tax filing software you will use in step 5.


Step 4: Find out if you are someone else’s dependent.

In most cases, it will be important to talk with your parent(s) to find out if they will claim you as a dependent on their tax return. If you have contact with your parent(s) be sure to have a conversation with them before you claim yourself as an exemption on your tax return.


Step 5: Use the IRS Free File resources to complete your federal tax return.

Start at and select Free File:


Most students will be eligible for free software because their income will be below $66,000 for 2017. Click on Start Free File Now:


Find the free filing tools that will be best for your unique situation by selecting Lookup Tool:


Fill in the Eligibility Verification form with your own personal details. Here is an example of a 20-year-old student from Pennsylvania, who earned $3,500 at their summer and federal work study jobs in 2017.


Click Continue to see the federal return filing options available for you. Below,  you can see the options that were suggested for the sample student, above:


Once you select a free filing tool, you do not have to agree to any “value added” upgrades. These are extras for which a company will charge money – examples include audit protection or credit monitoring. Some students may prefer to use these additional services, but remember you are not required by law to agree to any additional services in order to file your federal tax return.


Step 6: Consider your timeline and circumstances.

Feeling overwhelmed? It is not too late to request an extension to file your return, and if the tax professional cannot complete your tax return before April 17th, they will be able to help you with a request for an extension.

You may also submit your own Extension Form – here is the IRS resource page for filing extensions:


Step 7: Send them off!

Submit your completed tax return to the IRS after carefully reviewing all of your information. This may be done electronically (for faster tax refunds) or by printing and mailing a return.


Step 8: Think about your state and local responsibilities.

Once you have filed your federal return, be sure to find out if you must also file a state tax return. Some free online programs will allow you to file the state return with relative ease.

You should also see if you received a local (city, school district, county, etc.) tax form. Typically these are mailed to your permanent address.


Step 9: Keep records.

Save an electronic and/or paper copy of your federal tax return, state tax return, and all of your forms (W2, 1099s, etc.). You will need these for a variety of reasons in the future!


Step 10: Follow up and avoid scams!

Keep an eye out for your notification that the IRS accepted you return, your refund (if applicable), and avoid tax scams.

The IRS lists the “Dirty Dozen” tax scams every year ( but in general, they won’t call you and threaten you or request personal information over the phone. Scammers will try to scare you into acting quickly, so you fall for their trap – take a breath and reach out to your local IRS office, or an official IRS help line (, to find out if the contact was authorized by the IRS.



*Disclaimer: The author of this post and the members of Savē are not tax professionals. This information is intended to help individuals organize their tax-related materials and find safe tax filing resources from the Internal Revenue Service. Filing questions should be referred to the IRS or a tax professional, and this site should not be used as a substitute for advice from a licensed tax professional in your state.

Scholarship Opportunity!

One of the most common questions we get in Financial Aid is, where can I find outside scholarships?

So glad you asked!

The Pennsylvania Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (PASFAA) is offering seven $1,000 scholarships to Pennsylvania residents this year. If you’re a Dickinson student from PA, and you’re taking at least 3 classes a semester, you might qualify for this scholarship! (See other eligibility requirements here.)

Applications are due May 1st, 2018. Click here to apply.

Scholarship winners will be notified this summer.


Good luck!

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