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 3rd annual Money Smart Day took place in a virtual setting across all three Mason campuses (Fairfax, Mason Square, and Sci-Tech) on April 12, 2023. This event was free and open to students, staff, faculty, alumni, and all other members of the Mason community.

Money Smart Day 2023 Sessions: 

All Campuses FWB Tabling (in-person) 9:30 – 11:00 AM EST

This was an in-person and informational only session. At the Fairfax, Mason or Sci Tech campuses you learned about the events going on throughout the day for Money Smart Day. In addition, we had free giveaways for you to take with you.

Fairfax Campus location: Johnson Center KIOSK
Arlington Campus location: Auditorium room 134 in Van Metre Hall
Sci Tech Campus location: First Floor Atrium in Katherine Johnson Hall

'Hall' You Need to Know to Buy Your First Home (virtual) 10:00 – 11:00 AM EST

Are you looking to buy a home but don't know where to begin? How do you know if you're qualified? What is the general process?

Presenter: Amal Hall
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.

Click here to view the slides for this presentation.

Health Insurance 101 (virtual) 11:30 AM – 12:30 PM EST

Health insurance can be intimidating, often filled with jargon and loopholes. In this “For the Health of It” session, we discussed the basics of health insurance, defined common terms, and explored enrollment options. From this session, you should have a better understanding of health insurance to use as a baseline when looking at coverage options.

Presenter: Stephanie Funkhouser, MPH, BSN, RN
Stephanie Funkhouser is the Health and Well-Being Coordinator at Student Health Services. Her role is to serve the student community through outreach, education, and programming. Stephanie is a two-time alumna of George Mason University, receiving her Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2020 and her Master of Public Health in 2022. Her background as an RN fueled her passion for holistic, accessible, and equitable health promotion programming and outreach. As a Patriot, Stephanie is thrilled to give back to her alma-mater by using the knowledge and skills she learned as a student at Mason.

Click here to view the slides for this presentation.

Anti-Scamming (virtual) 1:00 – 2:00 PM EST

Scams are becoming more prevalent in our community. This session discussed current scams affecting our community members and tips for protecting yourself from becoming a victim of a scam.

Presenter: Melissa Smarr
Melissa is a lifelong Northern Virginia resident, who has worked for Fairfax County Government for 20 years in different capacities and at three agencies.  In 2010, Melissa was promoted to branch chief, where she manages building code complaints, unlicensed contractor complaints, and conducts public outreach events.  She is a facilitator of the multi-agency initiative, the Silver Shield Anti-Scam Campaign, which focuses on educating older residents about how they can protect themselves from scammers.  She is a graduate of Virginia Tech, where she earned a Bachelor’s degree in Consumer Studies, a Bachelor’s degree in Human Development, and a Master’s degree in Public Administration.

Click here to view the slides for this presentation,

Student Loan Repayment (virtual) 2:30 – 3:30 PM EST

In just a few months student loan repayments will begin again. Are you ready? Navigating and setting up your student loan repayments after graduation can be confusing, but it does not have to be. This presentation focused primarily on federal direct student loan repayments, while also briefly discussed private loans and Perkins loans. In addition, we discussed all loan forgiveness options as well as Public Service Loan Forgiveness and how to set up an income driven repayment plan. We also discussed how COVID-19 has impacted student loan repayments currently and in the future. Attendees ended 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 is the Assistant Director for Financial Well-Being in the Student Support and Advocacy Center at Mason. She has over 14 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 recently 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.

Click here to view the slides for this presentation.

Salary Negotiation (virtual) 4:00 – 5:00 PM EST

How do you negotiate a salary and non-monetary benefits that reflect your value to the organization? Or if you already have a job, how do you ask for a raise? Learn strategies and tips for being an informed and effective advocate for yourself to get the compensation you deserve.

Presenter: Elena Chiru
Elena Chiru is the Associate Director for Career Development at the University Career Services. In addition to her career advisor role, she is leading the Career Advising team.  Also, under Elena’s leadership the Career Education Program has been rapidly growing to the current design of five credit-bearing career education courses for undergraduate students. Elena completed her Master’s degree in Counseling and Development with George Mason University and has extensive career development experience and teaching career preparation courses.

Click here to view the slides for this presentation.

Financial Planning Basics (virtual) 5:30 – 6:30 PM EST

The roles and benefits of working with a Financial Planner can be unknown or unexplored. In this presentation, we reviewed not only these benefits but also the real advice and personal finance strategies Financial Planners use to help their clients.

Presenter: David Jeremiah
David Jeremiah is a George Mason Alumni from the class of 2021. He graduated with a degree in Kinesiology and served as the Head Swim Coach of various club teams in the DMV area up until recently when he made the switch to a more corporate career path. Currently, he is working as a Financial Planning Associate for Sovereign Wealth Management, an Investment Management and Financial Planning firm based in Tysons, VA; He has his Virginia Life Insurance and Annuities License and is studying for the Series 65 exam and Certified Financial Planner exam.

Click here to view slides for this presentation.

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

Money Smart Day 2023 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