Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

Independent Student Newspaper for the University of Texas at San Antonio

The Paisano

No need to groan about loans…well not too much

Welcome to Uncle Sam’s. I’ll take your order when you’re ready.”

“Ok, great! I’m going to have– Let’s do the Bachelor’s Burger all the way.”

“Alright. Anything else for you today?

“No, that’ll do it for me.”

“How about a McMasters or large fries?”

“Uh… You know what, I’ll take some of the large fries.”

“Sounds good. Your total will come out to $40,001.08; please pull forward.”

Parents beg, teachers plead, and older peers warn the college students to be financially cautious in their lives . Taking advantage of as much free money as possible, students who attend school use financial aid, scholarships, grants – these are what allow many college students to survive from one paycheck to the next. However, despite financial need and academic merit, there isn’t always enough funds to go around.

According to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, “student loan debt has become the largest form of consumer debt in the United States other than mortgages.” The College Board® calculates the 2014-2015 college enrollment class to suffer, on average, $39,400 in tuition alone over its four – year stay, and that’s not calculating rent, bills, books, food and gas. Based on the current trajectory, researchers expect cost to be more than double within 18 years. Currently the cohort of 2033 is set to face paying $94,800 in tuition.

Despite the price tag, college acceptance letters seem like an invitation to one of Jay (the Great) Gatsby’s parties, making student loans seem more like an investment for the future. This investment is a double-edged sword though. A college degree tends to offer better job opportunities, but student debt may become the Ghost of College Past without financial planning.

So how do you teach a college student to be smart with their finances during and after college life? Though one may have friends who’ve graduated or a family who offers tips – the well-intentioned advice is useful- but they can only provide so much help to the more holistic financial problems that plague young adults today. Advice is useful, but it can only provide so much help towards the more holistic financial problems that plague young adults today.

Tiphanie Mata, an accounting major and senior at UTSA, may have an answer. “[My friend and I] were talking about loans, and how students are stuck with this heavy debt after graduation, with no idea how to pay it off or handle it,” says Mata, “And there’s no guidance in how to actually handle debt effectively.”

Mata challenges that universities – arguably the source of the issue – should step up and either encourage or completely require that students, at some point in their college career, attend a class that teaches financial responsibility. “[S]tudents who took the course wouldn’t have to guess or do research on their own from possible unreliable sources,” Mata says. “Advice is often an opinion, a course or seminar should have advice and facts.”

Students can even make financial literacy appointments for one-on-one meetings about their financial state. The program also encourages professors to send guest speakers in replacement of cancelling class in an effort to reach as many students as possible.

Recent college graduate Daniel Vaughan was quick to point out that “finances are just as important, and there is just as much room for recklessness.” The truth of his statement is found simply by looking around at fellow university peers, where financial awareness fails to seem completely grasped. Vaughan reflects on one specific case he saw at the private university that he attended: students, in place of having a job or another source of income, would receive weekly allowances from their parents for whatever was needed or wanted. “My point is,” says Vaughan, “even parents aren’t necessarily educating financial responsibility.”

College is only getting more expensive, and as it does, students and lenders and institutions are sure to come up with even more inventive ways to put that burden into the distant future – out of sight, out of mind – when instead that resourcefulness should be put toward solving what is an increasingly difficult financial landscape to navigate. Because if universities won’t, if parents can’t, and if peers don’t teach students to be financially aware, who will?

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