Students need to take advantage of financial resources on campus

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]As romantic and idealist as we’d like to be, we simply can’t deny that our lives revolve around money. Few things are free in this world, and though some pursue monetary gain for image and status, money offers stability and security to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. This couldn’t be truer for students — with the rising cost of college education and narrowing opportunities for employment, money is often on the mind. And when it comes to budgeting we are tragically inexperienced. The Department of Financial Aid and Scholarships at the U offers students valuable help that can give students the most bang for their buck.

[ GET MOVING AND REAP THE BENEFITS ]

According to a 2013 Citigroup survey, college tuition costs have increased six-fold since the 1980s, and almost 80 percent of students work at least part-time during the school year. A separate U.S. Census Bureau study also shows that of more than 19 million college students surveyed, only six million didn’t work at all, and 20 to 25 percent of Utah students in particular work full-time, year-round. Working so many hours a week is an achievement in itself, but when this is coupled with time spent both in and out of class alongside extracurriculars, volunteer experience and family commitments, students can be easily overwhelmed. This is where the Department of Financial Aid and Scholarships steps in.

According to its website, the department offers assistance in three areas: grants and loans, scholarships and employment. These topics truly are vital in finding funding for college, but students have a larger problem than knowing how to make money, and that’s knowing how to spend their money wisely. The U should also offer services to budget meal plans and paychecks so resident students can make good use of the funds available to them while on campus. Off campus, students should be assisted in navigating the transportation system, allowing them to save money on parking and make use of their UCards. Pamphlets or newsletters educating visitors on where student discounts are offered and advertising free events would also allow students to attend shows and performances without the fear of exorbitant pricing.

For many, actively seeking out such information can be embarrassing. Offering it to students before they ask for it does the two-fold job of empowering them to make use of the advantages of being part of the university while also increasing attendance at events on campus. With a UCard, students can often attend shows and performances for free or for a fraction of the price, receive markdowns on computer software and eat at restaurants around the U for less — a comfort to many living hand-to-mouth. The discounts and advantages mentioned above already exist — it’s a simple matter of making others aware.

Being a student isn’t easy, nor is it cheap. Tuition is expensive, classes can be difficult and the food offered on campus isn’t always a steal. But going to college also has its advantages: We receive information to see our world in a new light, meet others with similar and diverse interests and become smarter, more compassionate citizens. We need to take advantage of the plentiful resources around us.

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