A student with their Ipad laughing with their finance group.

What we do

Western Michigan University's Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness addresses financial literacy and planning through a variety of programs and services.

Some of what we offer includes:

  • Promoting financial wellness and financial planning throughout the greater Kalamazoo community through workshops, seminars and summer camps.
  • Fostering and enhancing the financial literacy of area high school students, college students and southwest Michigan communities.
  • Providing financial coaching to students prior to key financial decisions via a network of experienced practitioners and student interns.
  • Conducting and publishing research related to the impact of financial literacy and planning education initiatives.
  • Stimulating collaboration between financial planning practitioners and departmental faculty.
  • Submitting grants for research studies regarding college and retirement planning.
  • Providing internship opportunities.
  • Developing certificate programs.


WMU Haworth students using the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room.

Peer financial coaching

Financial planning is a critical skill. And we know it is not easy to plan for your financial future, especially while juggling the demands of being a student.

All WMU students have access to peer financial coaching free of charge. During the financial coaching session, you can sit down one-on-one with a coach and go over your individual financial picture. We will be happy to discuss any personal finance concerns or questions you have and will provide you with useful tools and resources.

How can we help? We provide coaching on these topics and more:

  • Budgeting
  • Debt management
  • Saving
  • Credit cards
  • Student loans
  • Comparing job offers

Events and workshops

The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness hosts biweekly workshops for students on a variety of topics related to personal finance.

 Topics include:

  • The total college budget
  • Income tax basics
  • Investment accounts and strategies
  • Debt management
  • Employee benefits
  • Finance and budgeting apps
  • Reviewing your credit report and credit score
  • Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology
  • Eating smart on a budget

Financial planning speakers

Every semester we host speakers from the financial planning industry to share their knowledge and experience. For business college students, the speaker events may count towards Student Professional Readiness Series (SPuRS) credit.

To see the updated list of events, click the link below.

Dollars and Sense Camp

The week-long Dollars and Sense camp is designed to help students prepare for the future and learn how to manage money. Camp attendees will have the opportunity to: 

  • Discover career pathways. 
  • Plan for college or a skilled trade. 
  • Build a financial plan to fund post-secondary education. 
  • Practice budgeting, saving and investing. 
  • Learn about cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies.
  • Explore insurance and risk management. 
  • Gain knowledge about real estate. 
  • Compete in virtual investing, budget and other personal finance games. 
  • Meet business professionals and interact with real-world work environments, learning from experts. 
  • Create a life cycle plan that takes campers from high school through retirement. 

The ultimate goal is for your student to understand and apply basic concepts in personal finance, such as budgeting, paying for education, saving for retirement and more. Content is taught by experts from the private sector and the Haworth College of Business Department of Finance and Commercial Law. Each module is discussion-based and designed to be fun and engaging. Participants will have the opportunity to make presentations to financial professionals demonstrating the knowledge they have learned. There will be giveaways for campers who attend all sessions.

Camp details

Dollars and Sense Camp is open to students in grades 8 through 12. Registration is only $299.

The camp is held in the Greenleaf Trust Trading Room at WMU's Haworth College of Business. Campers should plan to attend all five days in order to maximize their experience and contribute to the team projects.

Camp will be held August 5 to August 9, 2024, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

For more information, contact the Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness



The Sanford Center for Financial Planning and Wellness promotes personal finance research. Conducting and publishing research related to the impact of financial literacy, planning and education helps leverage the skills of faculty, staff and students.

  • Publications
    • Ross, Matthew M., and A. Michelle Wright. (2021). “A Three Question Math Quiz: Who Is Ready to Learn Finance?” Journal of Education for Business, 97(7): 445-451.
    • Ross, Matthew M., A. Michelle Wright, and Simon N. Peffers. (2021). “Human Capital Investment: Building an App for That.” Journal of Applied Business and Economics, 23(8): 50-66. 
    • Wright, A. Michelle, and Matthew M. Ross. (2021). “Human Capital Investment for Adolescents: Barriers and Opportunities.” Journal of Financial Counseling and Planning, 32(3): 387–401.
    • Ross, Matthew M., and Wright, A. Michelle. (2020). “Quantitative Skill and Introductory Finance Does Ability Dominate Attitude?” Journal of Financial Education, 46(2): 193-220.
    • Ross, Matthew M., and Wright, A. Michelle. (2020). “Know Math or Take a Bath on a Finance Final Exam,” Journal of Economics and Finance Education, 19(1): 51-69.
  • Working papers
    • Ross, Matthew M., Wright, A. Michelle, and DeMello, Jim P., “To College or Not to College: An Individualized Approach to Human Capital Investment,” (Dec. 19, 2019).
  • Student research
    • Julien, Tyler L., and Ross, Matthew M. (2020). “Cash ‘n’ Careers Venture Analysis Report.” Kalamazoo, MI.
    • Canfield, Maclain. (2019). “Financial Literacy: The Argument for Required Coursework Regarding Personal Finance in Schools.” Honors Theses. 3140.