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Center Promotes Healthy Financial Decisions

Aug. 27, 2010
SHSU Media Contact: Amy Barnett

Jacki Brossman-Ashorn, assistant director of the Student Money Management Center, helps run the day-to-day operations of the center. The center is located in Estill Building Suite 228.

Whether you’re an incoming freshman or a parent of a new Sam Houston State University student, chances are you’ve recently had a discussion about how you’ll foot the bill for a four-year degree.

Let’s see, there’s tuition, books, room and board, clothing and transportation, just to name a few of the costs.

If you’ve decided to take out a student loan, you have plenty of company. According to a 2007-2008 study conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics at the United States Department of Education, two-thirds of college students who graduate, graduate with debt. In 2008, the average student loan debt among graduating seniors was $23,186.

But many students who find themselves in debt never graduate at all. A study conducted by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2009 showed 35 percent of students who enter college dropout during their first year. It found the main reason students drop out of college is “because they need money for survival.”

It is statistics like these that prompted Sam Houston State University to reach out to students and create the Student Money Management Center on campus.

“We wanted to promote good healthy financial strategies so students will stay in school and stay at Sam Houston through graduation,” said Jacki Brossman-Ashorn, assistant director of the Student Money Management Center.

The center opened its doors in October 2008, becoming one of only three financial literacy programs in a Texas college or university.

The center is housed with the Bearkat OneCard Office, but is its own entity, offering financial literacy outreach to students in the form of seminars and workshops. The organization also provides peer counseling as well as professional, personal finance counseling. And all of its services are free.

“It’s their first time in college, mom and dad say ‘let’s make a budget’, we can work with them one on one,” said Brossman-Ashorn. “We help students learn about budgets and how to build credit.”

Some students have learned that lesson the hard way.

Last year nearly one-third of students attending college in the United States decided to put their tuition on a credit card, an increase from 24 percent in 2004. That statistic comes from a study conducted by the Sallie Mae Corporation.

The report, “How Undergraduate Students Use Credit Cards: Sallie Mae’s National Study of Usage Rates and Trends, 2009,” also revealed 92 percent of undergraduate credit cardholders charged textbooks and school supplies. That number is up from 85 percent in the previous study.

According to Sallie Mae, on average, students have 4.6 credit cards.

Brossman-Ashorn offered a lesson to parents, assuring them there are ways to help your student build credit without getting credit cards.

“If you are a parent who is renting an apartment for their student, consider adding their name to the lease. Put the light bill in the student’s name. Get your student a gas card and pay it off each month,” said Brossman-Ashorn. “All these things help build credit.”

Students can stop by the Student Money Management Center, located in Estill Building Suite 228, and set up and appointment or take advantage of seminars the center holds on campus.

The center hosts a lunch time seminar once a month. The next one is scheduled for Nov. 10 at noon. The topic: “Handling Stress and Financial Stressors.” Students will learn how to recognize and combat college financial stress and such things as emotional spending.

“These are things they didn’t learn K - 12 and they’re not going to learn in English or history class,” said Brossman-Ashorn. “We’re not here to take parental roles; we’re just here to help too.”

The Student Money Management Center is offering its support off campus as well. Since 2008, it has assisted other colleges and universities in Texas, Minnesota and Tennessee in starting similar programs.

For more information about the SHSU Student Money Management Center, visit www.shsu.edu/~smmc/.



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