Being financially independent may be easier than students think

By Chelsey Boutan

Brad Cripe, assistant professor of accounting, remembers what it was like to be a college student who was struggling financially.

“I have a student loan bill that I will be paying off until I am well into my 60’s, but I took out those loans because I needed to,” Cripe said. “My student loans are what got me my degree and my job. I thank God that I was able to borrow that money.”

College students struggling to pay for their expenses aren’t alone, because being “financially sound” in any income bracket is difficult, Cripe said. But if students save a little bit of money each week, they can eventually achieve financial independence, Cripe said.

“You’d think the more money you make, the easier it is, but it’s not,” Cripe said. “Being financially independent at any age or income level is something you should be really proud of, because it’s not easy.”

One way students can keep track of their finances is by having separate envelopes set aside for each expense ranging from rent to lunch money, Cripe said. Using cash, limiting credit card use and not impulsively buying items are other important money saving strategies, he said.

Freshman psychology student Naszira Elmusa pays for her groceries, but because she can’t find a job her parents pay for all of her other living expenses.

“I feel guilty,” Elmusa said. I don’t want them to pay for everything. I wish I could afford to pay for more.”

Sometimes people use the word guilty when they mean to say that they are aware of the sacrifices someone is making, Karen White, director of the Psychological Services Center, said. White said students can reduce their stress by realizing that their parents are financially contributing to their education because they think it’s important. Doing their best in school and expressing their gratitude is a great way for students to repay their parents, she said.

Talking to friends about grades, money or relationship problems can help students who are struggling financially feel less stressed, Cripe said.

Cripe said students should take out the least amount of student loans possible, because loans can become a burden and can’t be absolved even when an individual declares bankruptcy.

White said student loans should be seen by students as an investment in their education.

“You have to think more about ‘what kind of person do I want to be’ and ‘what kind of opportunities I want to have’ instead of thinking ‘how much money do I owe,'” White said.

Sarah Wojdula, junior rehabilitation services major, said it’s important for her to differentiate between what she wants and needs because she knows she will have to pay off students loans after graduating.

“It’s hard being a full-time student while trying to work a job for enough hours to support yourself,” Wojdula said. “I know it will be a difficult couple of years after graduation to pay off student loans, but in the long run I know it will be worth it.