Iowa State University students will develop a Web-based personal finance game as part a national initiative to ramp up college students' money smarts.


University officials announced today that the Council of Graduate Schools has awarded ISU a $40,000 grant to develop a financial education program for graduate and undergraduate students.


Iowa State is among 15 universities nationwide chosen to participate in the initiative, which seeks to develop best practices for improving financial education among college students.


Iowa State will work to design a program that prepares students to play an active role in managing their personal finances and making informed decisions about saving, spending and borrowing.


"This project is a significant expansion of our efforts to promote greater knowledge of good practice in personal finance among our students, and particularly our graduate students," said David Holger, ISU associate provost and dean of the university's Graduate College. "The funding will allow us to pilot new intervention strategies that will enable greater engagement by students with financial information and decision-making tools."


The grant comes as part of the Council of Graduate Schools' Enhancing Student Financial Education program, through a partnership with financial services provider TIAA-CREF Individual and Institutional Services LLC.


Universities competing for the awards were asked to describe innovations they will develop to engage and address the needs of different groups of students. Unique to Iowa State's effort is a "game-ification" strategy in which students will be involved in developing and playing a Web-based personal finance game.

Data collection for the project will begin in October with a baseline survey of student financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. Findings will be made available to the higher education community through interactive tools and resources over the next two years.