Financial Well-Being

April is Financial Literary MonthFinancial literacy is the ability to confidently understand concepts including saving, investing, and debt that leads to an overall sense of financial well-being and self-trust (Experian, 2021).

Every year we partner with various departments around campus and in the community to create MONEY SMART DAY, a virtual and now in-person annual financial literacy conference to help you find financial balance in your life.

The 4th annual Money Smart Day will take place in a hybrid setting across all three Mason campuses (Fairfax, Mason Square, and Sci-Tech) on April 17, 2024. This event is free and open to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and all other members of the Mason community.


Register for Money Smart Day 2024


Money Smart Day 2024 Schedule & Zoom Links

All Campuses MSD Tabling (in-person)  9:00 – 11:00 AM EST

This is an in-person and informational only session. At the Fairfax, Mason Square or Sci Tech campuses you will learn about the events going on throughout the day for Money Smart Day. In addition, we have free giveaways for you!

Fairfax Campus: Johnson Center KIOSK B
Mason Square Campus: the Plaza (outside of Van Metre Hall)
Sci Tech Campus: First Floor Atrium in Katherine Johnson Hall

Anti-Scam & Fraud Protection (virtual & in-person) 10:30 – 11:30 AM EST

Protect yourself from scams. From phone calls to emails and door-to-door solicitations, we'll cover how these scams start and ways to evaluate and safeguard against financial losses. The presentation will address relevant topics for students, professionals, and older individuals. Snacks will be provided!

Presenter: Chris Whelan

Chris Whelan is a background investigator for the Alexandria Sheriff's Office with an extensive background in law enforcement and human resources. With over 27 years of experience as a police officer and detective, followed by six years in HR, he brings a unique perspective to the table. Now, Chris is dedicated to protecting the community from fraudulent schemes and scams.

Location: Fairfax, SUB I, room 3311

Click here to register for this session

Buying & Financing a Home as a First-Time Buyer (virtual & in-person) 12:00 – 1:00 PM EST

This presentation will cover everything you need to know for buying and financing your first home! We'll guide you through the process, from working with a lender, all the way to closing. Learn best practices and avoid pitfalls as we explore everything you need to know for a successful home buying journey. Box lunches will be provided after the session while supplies last.

Presenters: Amal Hall & Jenny Books

Amal is a local REALTOR® from Springfield, Virginia and has lived and worked in Northern and Central Virginia her whole life. Early in her career, she majored in Sport Management at GMU and gained sales experience in the professional sports industry. However, she knew she wanted to make a bigger difference in the lives of others and ended up transitioning into Real Estate to do this very thing. She truly believes that real estate is the key to financial growth and stability and she is thankful that she can help others achieve this very goal.

Jenny is a loan officer in the Fredericksburg, VA, branch where she focuses on generating loans and helping borrowers meet their unique financial needs. Her career has included prior stops at Second Bank & Trust, C&F Bank and Embrace Home Loans, with responsibilities ranging from budget management and compliance, branch operations, construction lending and residential purchases and refinances. Jenny grew up in the Fredericksburg area and currently lives in Spotsylvania with her husband. She enjoys running and has participated in two marathons and several half-marathons, and has volunteered as a treasurer for a local elected official. In her spare time, you can find her watching football or enjoying family time on the beach.

Location: Mason Square, Van Metre Hall, room 308

Click here to register for this session

Navigating Student Loan Repayments (virtual) 1:30 – 2:30 PM EST

Student loan repayments have begun again. Are you ready? Setting up your student loan repayments after graduation can be confusing, but it does not have to be. This presentation focuses primarily on federal direct student loan repayments, and briefly discusses private loans. In addition, we will discuss all loan forgiveness options as well as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and how to set up an income-driven repayment plan like the SAVE plan. We also will go into more detail on how COVID-19 has impacted student loan repayments currently and for the future. Attendees will end the session with the confidence and ability to get started, or continue, on a path to successful student loan repayments.

Presenter: Shannon Osborne, MA

Shannon Osborne, MA, is an Associate Director in the Student Support and Advocacy Center at Mason. She has over 15 years of Financial Aid experience but has focused most of her career on financial literacy and well-being for students. She received her Master of Arts in Financial Communication from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and a Bachelor of Arts in Telecommunications from Indiana University. She also completed her 2nd Master of Arts in Global Community Engagement from University of Denver which enables her to help all students navigate an understanding of finances and financial wellness.

Click here to register for this session

For The Health of It: Health Insurance 101 (virtual) 3:00 – 4:00 PM EST

Health insurance can often seem like a daunting matter, filled with jargon and complicated plans. This presentation breaks down the basics of health insurance so you can understand how health insurance works, define common insurance terms, and explore common health insurance options.

Presenter: Stephanie Funkhouser, MPH, CHES®, BSN, RN

Stephanie Funkhouser, MPH, CHES®, BSN, RN (she/her) is the Health and Well-Being Coordinator at Student Health Services. Her role is dedicated to advancing health and well-being on campus. As a two-time alum of George Mason, earning her Bachelor of Science in Nursing and her Master of Public Health, Stephanie is thrilled to be promoting health and well-being at the university that gave her the knowledge and skills to promote health. Throughout her professional career, she has intentionally worked to combine experiences from the field of nursing and the field of public health to develop holistic and equitable health programming. As a health educator, Stephanie is deeply committed to enhancing health literacy and empowering individuals with the knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their health.

Click here to register for this session

Salary Negotiation (virtual) 4:30 – 5:30 PM EST

Empower yourself, whether you're a current college student or an alum, with essential skills to confidently negotiate your salary. Learn practical techniques and invaluable insights to advocate for fair compensation as you navigate the dynamic landscape of the professional world.

Presenter: Elena Chiru
Elena Chiru is the Director for Career Advising at University Career Services, where she plays a pivotal role in guiding individuals towards fulfilling career paths. With a focus on personalized support, she leads the Career Advising team, ensuring high-quality service delivery to students and alums alike. Under Elena's guidance, the Career Education Program has experienced substantial growth, now offering five credit-bearing career education courses designed specifically for undergraduate students. Her strategic vision and commitment to student success have been instrumental in shaping the program's expansion and effectiveness. Elena holds a Master's degree in Counseling and Development from George Mason University and brings with her a wealth of experience in career development. Her dedication to empowering individuals to thrive in their chosen fields underscores her impact within the university community.

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Mastering Financial Foundations (virtual) 6:30 – 7:45 PM EST

Join financial professionals Nicolette Davicino, CFP®, EA and Nicholas Guidos, as we delve into fundamental topics surrounding personal financial planning. Learn about investment vehicles, tax basics and optimization, retirement savings, and securing your estate plan—all designed to empower your financial journey.

Presenters: Nicolette Davicino & Nicholas Guidos

Nicolette Davicino is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) and an Enrolled Agent (EA) at Armstrong Fleming & Moore Inc., a 40-year-old financial planning and investment advisory firm in downtown Washington, DC. Nicolette graduated from George Mason University (class of 2017) with a B.S. in Economics and honed her expertise prior to joining the industry by drafting research on financial services regulation as a fellow in the United States Senate. She currently serves as a volunteer with the Washington School for Girls and is a NextGen member on the Costello College of Business Financial Planning and Wealth Management Board.

Nicholas Guidos is an Investment Professional with VLP Financial Advisors. He assists with developing astute investment and financial planning strategies for individual and corporate clients. Nicholas holds a pivotal position on VLP’s Investment Committee. His role encompasses in-depth market research, meticulous due diligence efforts, and ensuring that all decisions are backed by thorough analysis. Nicholas graduated from George Mason University’s School of Business with concentrated studies in both Finance and Financial Planning & Wealth Management. Nicholas currently serves as a NextGen member on the Costello College of Business Financial Planning and Wealth Management Board.

Click here to register for this session

Money Smart Day 2024 would not be possible without the support from various campus partners:

Student Health Services | University Career Services | University Life, Mason Square | Division of University Life, Sci-Tech Campus | Student Success Coaching | Mason Student Services Center | FWB Peer Mentors

To view recorded presentations from past years' Money Smart Day events, visit