financial counseling, sources of referral, financial stress, college students


This study evaluates sources of referral to financial counseling and varied declines in financial stress across the financial counseling process. College students came to counseling most often through self-referral. Younger students and women were more likely to respond to institutional referrals. There were two clearly discernable periods of decline in financial stress, smaller interim declines occurring after requesting appointments and larger declines that occurred in counseling sessions. The interim declines, however, were only operative for those who were self- or institutionally-referred and not for those who entered on a social-referral. A possible explanation is that social-referrals have already had “someone to talk to” whereas other referrals may only begin to feel a psychological burden lifted after making an appointment. Total declines in financial stress were mostly impervious to individual differences and sources of referral lending support to the notion that financial counseling itself contributed to aggregate declines in financial stress.

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