By Clare Pak
Seniors are required to participate in a fall or winter financial empowerment seminar to graduate. But the information they are given actually does the opposite of its intention. Instead of empowering students with tips about how to live a financially accomplished life, the seminar instead burdens seniors with the knowledge of steps they could have taken earlier. There is no reason for Simmons to wait until students become seniors to educate them on financial proficiency.
This need is further demonstrated by recent statistics. Earlier this year, the “The Huffington Post” reported that more than 40 million Americans are in student loan debt. Of 40 million Americans, 7 million have defaulted, which results in negatively impacted credit scores that can make people unemployable for certain companies.
For those who have professional licenses, such as nurses, the state can suspend them for those who default. The high-stake consequences of defaulting include preventing students from gaining employment and losing their licenses, which are the very reasons they take out student loans in the first place.
The burden of paying off student loans was obvious when speaking with the senior class. I recently polled six members of the senior class regarding the timing of the financial seminar. They unanimously emphasized how anxious they felt about their fiscal futures, while stating they would rather have had the tips offered in the seminar earlier to help prepare them.
The sense of apprehension was palpable when speaking with senior math major Ramona LaTronica, who said, “I just wish I had this information earlier. Throughout the seminar, all I could think about was ‘that was what I should have been doing earlier’ not ‘this is what I can be doing now.’ It all feels too late.”
This apparent anxiety is inadvertently transferred from seniors to their junior classmen. At least three fellow members of the junior class have also expressed a desire to be educated earlier than their senior year.
“I’m not saying it has to be required right away, but it would be nice to at least have the option available to me in the winter semester. It just does not make sense to delay it,” said junior management major Janieva Mallory.
It is commendable that out of many of our neighboring schools, Simmons is one of a handful that offers a financial education seminar. Many students in those neighboring schools blamed the large university size or an administration’s lack of care and expressed a desire for a similar seminar at their school.
The commitment and concern for students’ future after Simmons is apparent in the requirement of this financial education, especially when so many institutions pass on offering it. It is because I know Simmons cares about the financial well-being of students that it is imperative that they begin to offer their seminars earlier, when students believe it is not too late to enact the positive financial practices they are taught.