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The Blue & Gray Press | March 25, 2017

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Editorial: financial literacy should be more of a priority at UMW

Editorial: financial literacy should be more of a priority at UMW

By THE BLUE & GRAY PRESS STAFF

Regardless of the time in the semester or the season of the year, the University of Mary Washington campus is always buzzing with events, promotions and campaigns. University relations, student-run clubs and other organizations are always offering their services to UMW students.

The Writing Center offers their advice and critiques on essays and CVs, for example, while the Speaking Center next door can aide a group of students with class presentations. If a student is struggling in a tricky subject, Academic and Career Services on campus offers a wide selection of tutoring services. For more personal obstacles, the Division of Student Affairs recommends students talk with someone at the Tally Center of Counseling Services.

UMW faculty and staff provide their students necessary tools for a successful college experience. But what about paying for this experience? What about paying for after college life?

The Office of Student Activity and Engagement sends out an email to the student body every Monday that tells of the events happening on campus over the course of the week. In this past week alone, there was a “Don’t Stereotype Campaign,” where students could learn how to break their unconscious stereotypes, a discussion about the similarities between Judaism and Islam and an information session featuring a family law attorney for interested students.

While these events and the many others like them that occur every week are productive, helpful and praised by the students of UMW, we believe it is a glaring oversight that the University does not offer more information, education or awareness for issues of college affordability and financial aid.

While the financial aid office in Lee Hall offers their services when a student has an error with his or her student account, or is applying for an on-campus job, the majority of students at UMW are still faced with challenges in their financial life at the end of the day that are not so easily addressed.

The average student at UMW takes out loans to afford college, yet there is a large percentage that do not actually understand all it entails. UMW continually offers similar informational sessions for study abroad programs and makes them a prominent aspect of all UMW promotions and events but rarely do we see financial literacy and education made a priority. While it may not be as appealing to the student body as studying in Paris, it is something that affects our generation in a larger way than that one-semester trip. We must be more open about the realities of college tuition. We must provide students the outlets to fully understand their debt and find proper ways to tackle it so they can graduate with financial security.

Instead of promoting social campaigns and trips, the University should take into account that the majority of students will face debt upon graduation. It would be beneficial to all for the University to provide more opportunities for students to become better educated in the financial realities of paying for college and the methods of handling debt in a way that it does not cripple our future.

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