Mar 282005
 
Authors: Jennifer Johnson

Financial issues can be stressful for many students, especially for those who have trouble budgeting their money. However, there is help out there for students who need assistance with financial management.

"It's worth an hour of each student's life to figure out what their basic, nonnegotiable expenses are. Then they will have an idea of what they can spend on fun things," said Judy McKenna, a fee-only financial planner at CSU. "If they need more than they have, they should try work study or some type of job. They should also go online and look for every possible scholarship."

McKenna realizes that many students have a difficult time with money, especially depending on their financial situation.

"I think that the students who need financial aid through grants, scholarships and loans tend to struggle more with money and many add debt problems through the use of credit cards, making their lives even more stressful," she said.

McKenna stressed the importance of budgeting expenses throughout the school year in order to prevent students from finding themselves in a bind during the summer months.

"By the time you begin to run out of money, you are also running out of options," she said. "The time to think ahead is when there is money to spread throughout the year."

McKenna said many students max out their credit cards and then are faced with paying high interest rates.

"If they have parents or grandparents who will help them out it's worth a try. What most people do is find things that don't cost much money in order to get through this tight period," she said.

McKenna also said it is important for students to take preventative action against debt issues.

"Students are now leaving school with high debt so anything they can do to avoid additional debt is worth seeking out," she said. "Getting a job in their field also helps students be more competitive, so a well-selected job would help cover costs. If not, find ways to make money by either paid work with an employer or self employment."

McKenna advises all students to stick to a financial plan and avoid credit card debt.

"It is also a good idea to find friends who are willing to have fun without spending a lot of money and for students to find work that provides income, but also enhances their resume," she said.

Christie Leighton, associate director at Student Financial Services, helps students with financial aid and questions regarding loans, paying bills and budgeting.

"We work with students on an individual basis in order to help them figure out a budget plan," she said.

The Student Financial Services Web site, www.sfs.colostate.edu, provides a budget calculator so students can plan out their education and living expenses.

"The budget calculator is a great tool for students to use in order to create a plan to manage their money effectively throughout the year," Leighton said.

For students suffering from money management and debt, Leighton highly recommends consumer credit counseling.

"Although Student Financial Services would be the first place for students to go if they are having problems, we also work closely with the Consumer Credit Counseling Service," she said.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Northern Colorado and Southeast Wyoming, 1247 Riverside Avenue, is a nonprofit agency, whose mission is to improve the wellbeing of families and individuals by helping them prevent and resolve financial problems as well as learn money management skills.

"The agency is a very legitimate resource to CSU," said Lanette Griffeth, accountant manager at Consumer Credit Counseling. "Our counselors visit CSU in order to educate students on debt."

Counselors at the counseling service meet with individuals in order to discuss their financial issues, set up budgets and offer options and advice on how to manage their financial situation.

"We have a fair amount of students come in," Griffeth said. "We are very willing to provide them with any help they need."

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