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Two-year college students face more money stress

University Business, July 2013

Learning how to better manage money may help aid in community college student completion. Nearly one in five get so worried about finances, they think about dropping out, according to the “Inceptia National Financial Aptitude Analysis” report. Only 7 percent of four-year students experience such intense stress.

Two-year students typically work more hours than four-year students and may have families to provide for, says Kate Trombitas, vice president of financial education for Inceptia. “This means a more complicated financial life.”

Bill Spiers, director of financial aid at Tallahassee Community College (Fla.), says two-year students sometimes handle loans poorly because it’s the first time they’ve had such a large sum of money. “Many students come into my office asking specifically about loans because they need to financially assist their family.”

At Tallahassee, a required “college success class” includes information on budgeting. During entrance interviews, students also learn about how loans impact their credit and what default is.

The key is for students to understand the consequences of borrowing. More educated borrowers are more likely to make smart financial choices and feel less stress, Spiers says.

“When a student asks to borrow more than 50 percent of tuition and expenses, we require he come to the financial aid office and explain why. It’s important for students to understand the consequences for overborrowing and only take out the loans they really need.”