U seniors flock to GradFest 2005

Before bidding farewell to the University, graduating seniors learned a few more valuable lessons Thursday, such as the importance of good credit and what it takes to gain financial stability.

GradFest 2005, the two-day event that took place in Coffman Union, gave graduating seniors a chance to take care of last-minute services, such as buying a cap and gown, ordering a class ring and purchasing graduation announcements.

But the majority of attending students went to the event for a mandatory exit interview sponsored by the Office of Student Finance.

The 20-minute informational sessions acted as a quick guide to the inevitable act many students will deal with after college: repaying student loans.

“It’s good they offered it,” said Kong Vang, an American studies senior.

“It refreshed me on what I need to know,” he said.

When the average student is expected to graduate with $4,000 of credit card debt and $15,000 in loans, balancing money wisely is not something all of them are familiar with, said Jennifer Klecker, a financial collector at the Office of Student Finance.

“I always feel like people know it all, but people don’t think about what they’re borrowing ’till the end,” Klecker said.

Fortunately, Vang and other students said, they are not too worried about paying back their loans, because many have jobs lined up after college.

“I’m not stressing out. I’m not in the best situation, but I’m comfortable with where I’m at right now (financially),” he said.

For Rianna Avery, a senior in the Carlson School of Management, her exit interview was a bit overwhelming, she said.

“It’s that initial shock value Ö it’s just thrown all at you,” Avery said about finding out how much she owed in student loans.

“I appreciate that they are doing this; otherwise, a lot of us wouldn’t know where to start with paying our loans.”

Other students, such as continuing education senior Brandon Harston, said the session helped a bit, but he wished he had learned more about the financial aid process when he was a first-year student.

“It would be nice to know about this before I started taking out loans Ö I would be more conscious about it,” Harston said.

The University does not require any entrance counseling for loans and finances, but Klecker said there is a class available for first-year students who want to learn about personal money management.

Now that Harston is knowledgeable of how to repay his loans, he said, he is just one step closer to graduation.

“I just want to get out as fast as possible,” he said.