Students pay bills, prepare for real world

Some students take the initiative to manage their finances and get an education.

Emma Carew

Some students have to work to pay bills and tuition and take over complete management of their finances.

Students have different ways of dealing with this, including finding ways to make ends meet each month and planning their finances.

A Daily survey shows that about 30 percent of students are solely responsible for their finances.

First-year student Morgan Tsan said she worked at the bookstore at Coffman Union in the fall to help pay for her living expenses.

Tsan said she receives grants, loans and scholarships that cover her tuition and a majority of her living expenses. She lives off campus to save money while she is supporting herself, she said.

ìI was living off the refund check (from the grants and scholarships) for about a month or two in the beginning of the year,î she said. ìRight now I am looking for another job and waiting to see if I will get permanently hired (at the bookstore).î

Like Tsan, 21 percent of students surveyed reported that they are seeking paid employment.

Tsan said working as many as 25 hours a week while carrying a 13-credit course load ìactually wasnít bad at all.î

ìWorking gave me the extra cash that I needed,î she said.

Jerry Rinehart, vice provost for Student Affairs, said about 80 percent to 90 percent of students around the country are employed while in college.

ìOur data shows that working (as many as 20 hours per week) and taking a full credit load is related to positive GPA and graduation,î he said.

Students with jobs have blocks of work in their schedule, he said, and they are forced to work the studying around those blocks.

Fourteen percent of students surveyed expect to have between $5,000 and $15,000 in debt when they graduate.

Tsan said she took a loan for about $2,500 a year. She said she expects to have between $9,000 and $10,000 of debt when she graduates.

ìI see (the loan) as a helping hand while Iím concentrating on my studies,î Tsan said. ìI donít consider it a huge weight on my shoulders right now.î

Similarly, first-year kinesiology student Alyson Castleman said she is financing her education on her own.

ìI didnít really plan on going to college,î she said. ìI ended up getting a bunch of scholarships, so I decided to go.î

Castleman said she lives off campus with some friends from high school to save money.

ìItís cheaper than living in the dorms,î she said. ìA lot cheaper.î

Twenty-eight percent of students reported owing as much as $1,000 on credit cards.

Castleman said she does not have a credit card and hopes to stay out of debt. She works two jobs to avoid taking loans, she said.

ì(The money) is always on my mind,î she said, ìbut I havenít run into trouble yet. Iím just hoping it stays like that.î

Castleman said she does not have a set budget or saving plan, but tries to save whatever she can.

ìWhatever I have left (after rent and bills) I put into the savings,î she said, ìand I donít really go into that at all.î

Once in college, the bills donít stop coming, Castleman said.

Paying bills is something students will have to do for the rest of their lives, she said, and they need to plan ahead and think about their future.

While 95 percent of respondents reported having a checking account, only 73 percent of them reported having a savings account.

Rinehart said financing a college education is about the ìshort-term pain for the long-term gain.î

ìAlthough it is painful and individuals struggle, from the long-term perspective itís a struggle well worth it,î he said.

Rinehart said he thinks higher education is one of the best investments a student can make, because it has such a positive return.

Planning

Twenty-seven percent of students said they already have begun planning for their financial futures, either through savings or investments.

Finance and accounting sophomore David Leibman is one of those students.

Leibman said his college education is being funded through a combination of sources, including scholarships and his parents.

Last summer, Leibman said he had an internship at financial management firm Merrill Lynch and learned a lot about finances and investing.

ìAfter the internship, I read some books on investing and probably around September I started buying and selling stocks on my own,î he said.

Students should start learning about investments during college, Leibman said, because it is a topic everyone will likely have to face at some point.

ìIn college, you need to know how to manage yourself and how to manage your time,î he said, ìbut you need to know how to manage your money, too.î

Leibman said he thinks many students might be turned away from investing because they associate it with risk.

ìThe risky thing is not knowing what youíre doing,î he said. ìItís really important to know where your money is going.î

Students can learn about investing their money in the newly founded Stock Traderís Club, which Leibman said he had a hand in.

The University club brings in speakers to educate students about managing their finances and investments, he said.

Leibman stressed that a full comprehension of investment options is key for students.

ìIf you understand what youíre doing, youíre less likely to lose your shirt,î he said.