What your parents taught you about money and how they handled their finances has a direct bearing on how you, as a student, manage your study bursary or loan. It all boils down to your financial education and learning by example.
Most people are rather uninformed about personal finance, and this shows not only in their own finances, but also in how their children manage money. This does not mean that all students are inexperienced in handling their finances, but a considerable number of them do need guidance to make their bursaries or loans last through the year.
Eduloan views itself as a responsible company that would like to help as many students as possible in furthering their careers. As one of South Africa’s foremost providers of study finance, we want to do much more than simply give students access to funds. We want to encourage a culture of financial discipline, to make sure students use the funds available to them responsibly. Eduloan aims to be a catalyst, an enabler that takes students from their present situation to becoming responsible and contributing South Africans.
We found that students were spending too much money on entertainment and personal luxuries that had nothing to do with their studies. Long before the end of the academic year, these students were presented with a shock: their funds were depleted!
This is where Eduloan’s Eduxtras product plays an important role. In essence it is a budgeting system whereby the bursar can determine and allocate funds for a specific item, called spending pockets – like meals, accommodation, books, and even cash.
Secondly, Eduxtras helps control spending on essentials. We implemented processes that prevent students from spending their bursaries or loans on, for instance, cigarettes or alcohol.
Used to a limited amount of pocket money, or in some cases no money for personal use at all, students are granted a loan of, say, R25 000 in their first year of study. Too many students, and in particular those from a poor background, this is an incredible amount of money that will, in their minds, last forever.
The most important aspect about Eduxtras is that students are taught how to budget and are left with a clear picture of where they stand financially in any given academic year, knowing exactly what they can spend on and what not. It is a tool that teaches the students at an early age how to work with money and make it last for the period it was intended for. We force students to stick to their budget, at the same time inculcating in them a sense of responsible money management.
We have developed a financial education booklet that we hand out to students to help them understand money matters. When activation of their Eduxstras card takes place, Eduloan representatives are there to explain the finer details about security and using the card. It works very much like a bank debit card. The student can use the card to pay but the system can also facilitate payment by using cell phone technology with the same pocket technology.
The student and the bursar can draw a real-time report on the spending done. Whenever a transaction happens, they can see that their account is debited and how much money is left for future purchases. In cases where the full amount in a specific spending pocket, for example books, is not used up, the bursar is refunded that amount by the end of the year.
Eduxstras is a scalable, workable solution that helps the student reach his or her academic goals and assures the bursar that the money granted is spent well. The system gives bursars access to a full report of what the student is spending money on, which allows the bursars to adjust the spending pockets for, say, accommodation or meals, should they feel that these are not sufficient.
Over time, students learn to understand their spending patterns. Later on, when they have graduated and are not part of the Eduxtras system any longer, we hope that responsible budgeting and prioritising expenses will have become second nature.
Eduloan’s aim is to see more financially balanced students, who understand that a financial buffer needs to be built to protect them against unexpected expenses, understand the difference between good and bad debt, and who can manage the funds available to their advantage.