College Connect: Students and Financial Stress

Posted By David Wilhite

By Alec Larson

As the end of the Spring semester nears, many graduating college seniors grow increasingly worried about their finances.

“I’m stressed because even though I’ve been saving money my entire life, I’ve spent a lot of it while in college just because it’s hard to work a lot,” said Stephanie Motter, who is graduating from the University of Georgia in May. “You can’t have a full time job because you’re taking classes, and doing internships, and extracurricular stuff.”

Motter, an advertising major, said slowly spending her savings and taking on student loans has caused her to stress over running out of money and not having the time to take an extra income. Despite saving financially as much as possible throughout her time in college, Motter is worried about student debt and her future prospects in the professional world.

She is not sure how much of a burden her student debt will put on her, or if she will even be able to get a job that will help her pay the debt off.

“With the job market the way it is for people right out of college I’m worried that I won’t immediately be able to get a job or a high-paying job,” said Motter.

According to Matt Goren, who teaches in the personal finance program at UGA, students such as Motter should not put themselves into a mental bind worrying about finances and their student debt.

Goren said the worst thing a student can do is to sacrifice their emotional and mental well-being by stressing over potential money problems in the future.

“For students that don’t have much [debt], don’t worry about it so much. It really doesn’t get bad until it’s in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. Work to budget around it as much as you can. I wouldn’t say panic or worry,” said Goren.

Goren said for students struggling to cope with money issues, finding ways to raise their income is the best way to handle the situation. He said there are three tiers of potential income a student should consider.

The first tier, and according to Goren the best possible way for a student to raise income, is to find a way to both get paid and advance one’s career through grants, internships or summer jobs that are within the career field the student plans to work.

The second tier includes jobs that are run through the university the students attends, as these jobs often offer competitive wages and can provide time to do homework such as a desk clerk in residential housing.

The third tier, and the last that should be utilized, according to Goren, include jobs that are minimum wage and do not have any connection to the students planned career field.

Ultimately, Goren believes that even if students do end up having to deal with debt, the best thing to do is just to toughen up and put in the work necessary to pay the debt off.

“That means pushing other stuff back a little bit, being a little bit more careful with the budget and focusing on paying it off. There’s no silver bullet,” said Goren.

Alec Larson is a student at the University of Georgia.

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