Skip Navigation

What college students should know about their finances before they are in a classroom

  • Scott LaMar
Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education

Graduation mortar board cap on one hundred dollar bills concept for the cost of a college and university education

Airdate: Monday, August 29, 2022

Last week, President Joe Biden took action to cancel up to $20,000 of debt for those who took out loans to pay for their college educations.

Since then, much of the national conversation has been what it will mean for the middle class to not be burdened with as much debt, the fairness of the debt relief and the cost of higher education.

But what do students and their families hear about the financial aspects of college even before they start classes?

Emiyaril Alvarez, Director of Financial Aid at Millersville University said on Monday’s Smart Talk that the first thing students and their families should do is obtain information on and apply for the financial aid they’re eligible for. But after that the advice is, “I want you to write down your goal. Because sometimes when we write goals and they can see it, put it somewhere they can see it, and and they can hopefully work towards that goal. And it’s a permanent you know, a permanent goal. I also talk to students about being prepared, in trying to have setting aside an emergency fund to use for unexpected expenses…look at the choices that you’re making on a daily basis, separating their needs versus their wants…I’ll give you an example when they talk to me about shoes and sneakers and things like that, okay, I say, okay, those shoes that you want to cost $200, do you think it’s a good idea to purchase those shoes now or how about do you have your school supplies and maybe some of the books that you need for the first day of class? So we try to have those discussions that and lastly, one other one other topic that I’ll mention would being also try to tell them to try not to succumb to peer pressure. It is okay to say, I can’t go to the movies today or I can do X, Y, Z today because I have this goal in mind. And I think that that’s probably, peer pressure.”

Dr. Stacy Mastriola, Associate Professor of Accounting, Bucknell University, advises students to compose a budget a stick to it,”For most of them, this is the first time that they’re managing their daily schedule. You know, they came from a house where likely their parents managed. It certainly drove them until they were of an age to drive. And when you’re in college, what you do with your time is completely up to you. So when I advise first years and meet with them maybe four or six weeks into the semester, the ones that are struggling, I mean, basic questions like, are you eating real food or are you surviving on cold pizza? Your brain needs more than cold pizza to to get by. This is you know, this is their first run at it. So we use a lot of now we use a lot of advising faculty. We have faculty advisors. And then within each college, we have associate deans that also work with students. We have especially since COVID. Red Flag Ways to raise a red flag make, make, bring to the attention of the Associate Deans student that we think is struggling.”

Mastriola added that students may be better off with debit cards rather than credit cards but if they use credit cards, they have to use them wisely.

Support for WITF is provided by:

Become a WITF sponsor today »

Up Next
Smart Talk

Want to learn to climb trees? Penn State course has you covered.