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Financial Tips From Our Graduate Assistant

When I first started college four years ago, I thought I had  prepared myself enough (well as much as a first generation college student could anyway), but I soon realized that I was lacking knowledge when it came to finances. The only knowledge I had about finances was from my parents, but I didn’t know how to translate that into my college experience.  I remember walking into the Financial Aid office knowing that I had to take out a loan, but I was clueless about how loans worked and that scared me a little. Thankfully, a Financial Aid Counselor  was able to explain to me the basic knowledge of how loans and scholarships worked and how they would be applied to my account. After this instant, I took it upon myself to become self-sufficient by learning about all the different resources on campus in case I needed any other assistance. This experience taught me about advocacy and how important that is. 

Here are a few financial tips I learned as an undergrad: 

  • Talk with your parents-  Going off to college means that you’re independent and maybe the last thing you want to do is to ask your parents for advice, but this could be super helpful. Even if you are a first generation college student, you will be surprised by how much your parents know about personal finance. 
  • Take advantage of student discounts- Take advantage of the perks of being a student. Diners, restaurants, movie theaters, concert venues, and other places offer student discounts with a valid student ID. 
  • Check your budget and bank accounts regularly- It’s important to check your finances regularly to make sure that you know where your money is going. Online banking and budgeting apps are an incredible resource to keep track of your money. 
  • Buy/ rent used books when possible- Renting and buying used books can save you a chunk of money every semester. Yes, it may take a little longer to browse a number of websites to find a lower price on a book, but trust me, it will save you money in the long run. 
  • Consider wants vs. needs- You should prioritize items in your needs such as food, rent, clothing, etc. Those items in your wants list could wait a little longer, trust me. 

As an undergrad student at Southern Utah University, I had the pleasure of working as a peer mentor. My role as a peer mentor was to support first year students throughout their first year of college. That support came in different ways for every student. Some needed help with classes, housing,  roommates, etc. This experience taught me the importance of supporting students in all aspects of their lives. Being able to support students holistically means that students need to have all their basic needs covered in order for them to function as a student. If students don’t have a hold of their finances, or they aren’t financially stable, it becomes difficult for them to be a student because they have other outside pressures that are limiting them from focusing on their academic career.  

 As I was applying for graduate assistantships, I realized that I had some experience with some of the other resources that were hiring graduate assistants, but the Financial Wellness Center caught my eye because I didn’t know much about Financial Wellness. I knew that Financial Wellness is pivotal in the development of students. I thought to myself I could either go for an assistantship where I have a little bit of experience in or I can take a risk and go with something that I am not very familiar with, but that would allow so much room for growth.  I decided to go with the second option and I am excited to be part of the Financial Wellness team. My hope is to be able to support students and equip them with the necessary tools to be financially informed  and take agency over their finances. I’m excited to embark on this journey and learn from my supervisor and peers. 


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Last Updated: 5/24/21