Financial services help students

Reporter and Reporter

For some students, trying to pay for college can be stressful, but Student Money Management Service at the University aims to help them out.

SMMS is a service that educates students on how to save, spend and budget their money in order to make easier financial decisions regarding such things as bills, student loans and rent.

The service came about from the request of students in April 2007, when everything they bought was billed straight to their bursar accounts from using a card, said Patricia Donnelly, program manager at SMMS.

Donnelly said it was like having a credit card, and not paying attention to the charges that were being made ultimately gave birth to the BG1 card.

“Students didn’t really have an appreciation to the charges that were going on and so that’s why they created the BG1 card,” Donnelly said. “Student loan debt has been the highest that it’s ever been. We just want to help students become more aware of the debt they are accumulating so that they can keep an eye on it.”

The service, which includes in-class presentations and group work, also offers one-on-one counseling sessions.

SMMS Financial Education Coordinator Heather Wilson, said the most beneficial section of the service is the counseling sessions.

“Through these sessions we can talk about their personal and financial situation in a private setting,” Wilson said. “We usually get to a little bit more of a detailed information in terms of helping out with their financial situation and making sure they’re more confident with their finances.”

The SMMS is a service for the entire student body, however, very few students have taken advantage of the financial assistance, Donnelly said.

Donnelly said she has been in the SMMS since 2008 and hasn’t seen too many students using it.

“Last year we topped over 100 students coming in to see us individually and that was the highest that we’ve had so far,” Donnelly said. “We’d like to see some more students coming in, especially students who are about to graduate and have some student loan debt so that we can talk with them and make sure they’re ready for repayments.”

Graduate student Kenneth Rutski said he thinks SMMS serves a great purpose in helping students with financial assistance.

“If you’ve come from a family who have always just bought and bought and not really knew about the ramifications, you’re not going to know how to budget your money especially when you don’t have a lot of money to begin with,” Rutski said. “It’s a good idea to have someone to show how to do that,” he said.

The service is open to all students throughout the school year and is free of charge. The office is located at 205 Moseley Hall and its hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“Its not a bad thing to discuss your finances,” Wilson said. “The earlier they start getting a jump on their understandings of their finances, the better they will be in the long run.”