Become a Peer Counselor

As a Smart Money Peer Counselor, you can earn course credit towards your degree, build your resume with valuable, hands-on experience, and help your fellow students establish the foundation of their financial literacy education.

Applicants are selected each Fall for the Spring Peer Counselor Development Internship.

If interested, applicants will apply through Handshake and interview with the Smart Money team in November. Selected candidates will enroll by permission only in PST-270, a 3-credit internship. During the internship, candidates will sharpen their personal financial knowledge and obtain the skills needed to help others do the same. Successful trainees go on to become peer counselors for the Syracuse Smart Money program.


  1. 2nd-semester freshman, sophomores
  2. Ability to accommodate the three credit PST-270 in your academic plan, without exceeding 19 credits
  3. Will need to commit to five hours a week, for a two-hour learning period, two-hour administrative or in-office assignments, and one-hour for shadowing counselor appointments
  4. Must maintain satisfactory academic progress during the internship and through their tenure as a peer counselor

Peer Counselor Development Program

Through the Counselor Development Program, students develop a knowledge base in these core competencies:

  1. Spending – Budgeting, goal-setting, campus deals
  2. Borrowing – Credit scores, credit reports, mortgage types, buying vs. renting, buying vs. leasing vehicles
  3. Saving and Investing – Options, accounts, emergency savings, investing basics, market overviews, asset class types and characteristics, security features (stocks, bonds, mutual funds)
  4. Earning – Understanding general tax concepts, benefits packages, retirement plan types
  5. Protecting Against Risk – Types of insurance, features, and benefits – including life, health, auto, home, disability, long-term care, and identity theft.

Additionally, the Internship and Training Programming will cover best practices for peer counselors, counseling strategies, and how to provide trauma-informed care. They will learn the following concepts as listed by the CDC for trauma-informed care.

  1. Safety – Learning to create physical, social, and emotional safety in a peer counseling setting
  2. Trust and Transparency – Being forthright in our intentions, consistent in our programming and counseling sessions, and maintaining calmness and stability above all else
  3. Peer Support – Introducing students to resources on Syracuse University’s campus that will expand their network
  4. Collaboration – Encouraging a student to use their own words when defining their next steps and giving fair and measured feedback that offers encouragement
  5. Empowerment, Voice, and Choice – Centering a student in our interactions and counseling so they feel assured and well-informed in their decision-making process
  6. History, culture, and gender – Acquiring the skills to take measured steps to discuss financial principles in a way that is relevant and up to date for all students, as well as, acknowledging social, political, and economic barriers minority students have faced in financial literacy education

Upon completion of PST-270, students become peer coaches for Syracuse Smart Money, and are able to:

  1. Counsel individual students on financial topics such as budgeting, saving, spending, and managing their earnings.
  2. Deliver group presentations to schools and organizations on campus.
  3. Educate students on student loan types, resources, and repayment strategies.
  4. Manage their own finances more effectively.
  5. Discuss higher-level strategies such as investing, insurance, and benefits selection.

*Peer counselors provide education, information, and strategies only. Students interested in financial planning and investments are encouraged to consult a financial professional.