Friday, July 4, 2014

How UT Tyler Can Help Students Better Understand Their Finances

In my last blog entry, I noted that one of the largest hurdles for undergraduates in their first year of college life is the ability to retain financial support to continue their academic career. In fact, it is the leading cause of low retention rates for colleges and universities in the United States. While a large portion of this issue is based on socioeconomic status, a large amount of relief for this problem can come from having a better understanding of one's finances. Whether it is being able to pay for one's tuition, or just being able to make rent payments on a monthly basis, it is no surprise that undergraduate students could always use more assistance with financial solvency.

New strides are being made with colleges and universities nationwide to alleviate the stresses that come with dealing with a student's personal finances. Many colleges have started financial literacy programs in recent years, some even making these courses and programs a requirement to enroll for classes for subsequent semesters. These programs are necessary based on the average knowledge that undergraduate students have about personal finance--concepts such as budgeting, saving, compound interest, and even check-writing are becoming more unknown for these students. Rather than wasting money on a regular basis on luxuries such as video games, furnishings, alcohol, etc., students can learn how to better save their money to have an easier time making their required payments.

UT Tyler can adopt a framework similar to that of Ohio State University, who are currently in the process of making all students complete a financial-education program during their second year at the school. The mandate requires students to review online material, as well as meet one-on-one with a student financial adviser. These volunteer advisers are trained to spend time with students to help them understand their current financial situation, establish goals for the short and long term, and develop sustainable financial habits and responsibilities. The overall goal is to better inform students as to how they can better their financial responsibility, and make college life easier and more sustainable.

While UT Tyler has the ability to boast an extremely affordable tuition rate that is well below the state median for public university tuition, financial woes for some students still exist. The responsibility for financial stability and success does not have to fall solely on the student--our university can make large strides as well. Until then, there is a litany of resources that can be utilized, both in person as well as on the internet. FAFSA has a large information basis for students applying for financial aid, and UT Tyler provides financial aid advising for its students who require more information. Check it out before your next rent check is due!


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