Help available for students suffering from financial aid

Adrian Suarez/Staff Writer

Anthony Da Silva, a junior majoring in finance, said he invested over $300 in a stock that he said he was sure would skyrocket.

“Unfortunately, my wallet has a $300-size hole today still,” Da Silva said.

Situations such as the one in which Da Silva found himself are not uncommon in the lives of college students. Every semester students agree to the terms and conditions of loan contracts and some bravely tackle the complexity of handling stocks online without understanding the mechanisms.

Although the student population can certainly ace a University-wide reading test, the outcome measuring students’ levels of financial literacy would be best kept out of transcripts for fear of destroying a decent GPA.

“The reality is that students concentrating in any academic area need to have a basic sense of knowledge of how to build credit responsibly, understand the effects of student loans and gauge the consequences of defaulting,” said Deanne Butchey, senior lecturer in finance.

“Students should have a strong understanding of credit – how easy it is to acquire and how difficult it is to pay back,” Butchey said.

Credit is the building block of ensuring possession of capital assets in the future after college, such as a car and house. Understanding the importance of building credit and how to repair a poor credit score is essential to allow a student to be financially stable in the future, according to Butchey.

Though credit cards are popular possessions among students on-campus, several students who own one seem to agree that they have difficulties when it comes to comprehending policies or simply paying for the cards on time.

“I am drowning in credit card debt,” said Xiao Liu, a senior chemistry major. “But it’s my fault because I didn’t even know what I was getting myself into when I got the cards.”

Liu is not alone.

Several of the students interviewed shared the same sentiment, adding that they would have appreciated some form of guidance when taking out their credit cards.

Along with the issue of credit card debt, student loan debt seems to loom over students’ heads just as much. The idea of the college experience is so enticing that students disregard the fact of whether or not they’ll be able to pay off loans in order to maximize their four-year enjoyment.

“Getting out of high school, I was all about the idea of going to college and getting a dorm, without thinking about how I was going to pay for it all,” said Stephanie Borrelly, a senior majoring in religious studies. “So I ended up taking out too many loans my freshman year.”

But fear not, Panthers: help is available.

“The State Farm Financial Literacy Lab is an open resource for students to get assistance in making sound financial decisions,” said Katherine Grau, Lab manager of the State Farm Financial Literacy Lab. “Although the Lab aims to educate high school students primarily on how to become financially literate, college students are welcome to come in and receive guidance from the student interns.”

According to Grau, students are able use the lab to conduct financial research and learn how to navigate through the Bloomberg database it has available.

“Because of the lab I know how to work with Bloomberg,” said Stephanie Corteguera, a junior majoring in finance. “And this will serve me greatly when I am in the business world.”

The State Farm Financial Literacy Lab is located in the College of Business Complex 252 at the Modesto A. Maidique Campus. The Lab is open Mondays to Fridays, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 10 p.m.

 -news@fiusm.com

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