Needed: Personal finance 101

Loan modifications, fixed interest rates, deferred payments, financial aid reimbursements, debt, spending money on meals, and buying expensive books are just a handful of the financial worries that plague many St. John’s students. They are often left in the dark with questions concerning their finances and are forced to figure out cheaper ways to survive. And with an economy in a state of uncertainty, students with a lack of economic guidance often make poor financial decisions.

Many St. John’s students, often those working part-time jobs, may very well spend their hard-earned funds on items like shoes, clothes, junk food, cell phones, and parties instead of saving or investing those finances on loans or their college tuition.

In effect, these students tend to have inadequate amounts of funds to support their academic investments. As a result, accrued interest rates and compound loans become chains that leave students in a large amount of debt upon graduation.

The principal issue at hand is the fact that upon the beginning of their freshman year, many St. John’s students do not receive proper financial guidance. This financial guidance may include information on budgeting, managing personal expenses throughout college, signing fixed tuition rate forms, establishing credit, and spending money appropriately on necessary items.

Currently, St. John’s offers some financial guidance from the Department of Student Financial Services that includes seminars on scholarship opportunities and financial aid advice. The University also offers a financial information lab that instructs students on stock market information and the fiscal investment industry.

However, these programs and seminars fail to guide students on a more personal level.

Although they do help inform students about receiving financial aid, scholarships, and investment opportunities, they do not help students improve their saving and spending skills.

They do not sit down with students and plan out their four-year financial plan in accordance with their income flow and personal expenses.

According to a study conducted by the financial research department at the University of Texas at Austin, colleges such as Texas A&M University, University of Florida, Vassar College, Duke University, and Arizona State University offer some of the best financial assistance and guidance programs throughout the country.

Not only do these universities offer some of the best aid reward packages to students, but they also give students the opportunity to meet with personal financial advisors throughout their undergraduate career to plan out their financial calendar to ensure that smarter financial decisions are made while they are college students.

In an effort to aid students in their personal economic endeavors, St. John’s should offer a similar and more effective program to students that would guide them towards making intelligent financial decisions.

Students should receive advice on how to appropriately take out loans and how to manage their payments while balancing expenses and costs throughout their college career, just as they would meet with an academic advisor to plan out class schedules and university credits.

The bottom line is that the University should make more of an effort to help students with personal financial savings and expenses to not only improve the financial situation of the student, but to ensure reimbursement to the University as well.

If not, consolidated loans, poor spending habits, and unguided financial decision making will continue to entrap students in a sentence of life-long debt.