CU graduate school to participate in student finances research project

The University of Colorado system is one of 15 institutions selected to participate as funded research partners in the Enhancing Student Financial Education (ESFE) project, a three-year project to encourage students’ financial literacy overseen by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS).

The project, funded by Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America – College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), aims to enhance the financial literacy of graduate and undergraduate students, according to the CGS website. The amount of student debt in the United States has risen to over $1 trillion. Students who graduated from CU in 2012 amassed an average $22,500 in debt.  

One element of the ESFE project is GradSense, a tool launched last month that is aimed at graduate students and prospective graduate students.

“GradSense provides students with crucial financial information that was never easily accessible or available before,” said Debra W. Stewart, president of CGS.

Much of the information offered on GradSense is available elsewhere on the web, but project director Daniel Denecke said that the purpose of GradSense is to make that information easily available in one place.

With all information readily available, students can hopefully make more informed decisions about pursuing expensive graduate studies.

“We’re trying to get students to see the potential return on their investment,” said Denecke.

Denecke explained that GradSense can help students save money in their daily lives and identify financial issues students should be prepared for.

To use GradSense, students enter their degree type, desired field of study and preferred career. The students are then shown the median debt of students pursuing their specific degree, along with the average starting, median and expert salary levels of professionals in their desired career. GradSense displays only the financial data of careers for which it has sufficient information from contributors.

Yuchen Wu, a recent graduate with an accounting degree who writes a personal finance blog for the CU bursar’s office, said that he thinks GradSense is a good starting point for students. He said that he would take the information given by GradSense and then figure out how he could make more than the amount given. 

“I would want to use it to check how much money I would make, but I wouldn’t believe it fully,” said Wu.

Wu said that when it comes to personal finances, there’s always more to learn, and that most students wait too long to begin their financial education.

“You never know how you will lose money if you don’t have enough financial literacy,” said Wu.

Contact CU Independent Staff Writer Sam Klomhaus at

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