USG: Funds needed for financial help

Kristen Vasas and Kristen Vasas

An emergency resolution concerning the Student Money Management Services was passed at last night’s Undergraduate Student Government general assembly meeting with approval from 23 members.

The SMMS, which was created by President Sidney Ribeau with support from Vice President of Student Affairs Ed Whipple, is a program designed to facilitate the development of students’ financial skills by introducing them to financial education.

According to SMMS director Duane Whitmire, $129 million in loans were taken out by BG students last year in order to attend the University.

As a result, the program planned to hire full-time financial service educators to help students identify money issues as well as plan yearly budgets. However, once the University hiring freeze was enacted, there was no chance for Whitmire to hire the two people he had in mind for the job.

‘We need a full-time staff,’ Whitmire said. ‘Right now, we have two half-time graduate students working out of their homes as well as a number of half-time student volunteers.’

Since the development of the program, 97 appointments have been requested for 90-minute sessions.

The hiring freeze is expected to thaw sometime in late November when the University has the ability to make up a $3 million deficit, said Jill Carr, dean of students.

‘After this occurs, all we will need is the approval to make an offer to the two people we want to hire [as financial service educators],’ Carr said. ‘We have the support and the funding.’

USG East Units Senator Paul Bolin, who also serves as a student financial educator for the SMMS, stressed the idea that even though the program has the support of the USG, it must gain popularity among the students and the University.

‘We need this service for the undergraduate students,’ Bolin said. ‘USG needs to spearhead this and make it our No. 1 issue for the year. There are other issues out there right now that are important, but this is huge.’

Bolin said one of the reasons behind the importance of careful financial planning is the fact that the current generation will not have Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare.

‘This is something that I am affected by personally,’ he said. ‘We will not have the same future as our parents in terms of financial help from the government, so it’s our responsibility to educate ourselves now.’

The creator of the resolution, Off-Campus Senator Melinda Grooms, considered this fact when she presented the final draft.

‘I hope that students [who sign up for the SMMS] take away skills that will ensure their financial freedom in the future,’ she said. ‘This has always been an issue, and we’re finally addressing it now. I hope it continues to grow.’

After passing in USG, the resolution goes to other organizations on campus including Panhellenic Council, Resident Student Association, Black Student Union and the University Activities Organization.

‘We have set up meetings with every single organization on the [resolution list],’ Speaker Jeremy Lehman said.

Although the SMMS still has a long way to go before it becomes officially started, USG hopes the resolution will help make the process faster.

‘This is something that clearly impacts our everyday lives and we will do everything to make it happen’ USG President Johnnie L. Lewis said. ‘This is a start.’