The Student Support Services program in TRIO recently started a series of Financial Readiness Workshops to help prepare students for financial success in and after college.
The workshops take place at 3 p.m. on Thursdays in room 317 in the College of Business Administration.
The first 30 minute workshop was on financial wellness. The next nine are on topics such as outside scholarships, budgeting, FAFSA completion, student loans, saving and investing, credit and debts, student loan repayment and setting financial goals.
Rebekah Davis, the director of student services at ACU, is a part of the Texas Association of Collegiate Financial Education Professionals board. She said financial wellness and workshops are a passion of hers.
“Budgeting is the number one thing that people want to know about, like how to create a budget and how to stick to it, how do I get started with it and what to expect,” Davis said. “We want students to know what to be prepared for when they leave here with things like when do you have to start repaying your loans, how do I find out who my lenders are and what can I expect as far as repayment goes.”
The Student Support Services (SSS) program at ACU is led by Gabrielle Mallet, the executive director of university access programs. Mallet and her staff support 140 students on campus in a program called TRIO. TRIO has three different programs: Upward Bound, Talent Search and SSS. These students either come from low income households, have a disability, or are a first generation college student. These students meet with a success coach each month one-on-one to discuss their needs.
“A lot of them are first-generation students who didn’t have parents who went to college that know how to do this,” Mallet said. “I think that’s part of what makes it so successful as well is the gentle reminders, the gentle nudging, meeting one-on-one, it’s just helping them to navigate.”
Carolina Rodriguez is one of the success coaches for Mallet and TRIO. She meets with 55 of the 140 students in the TRIO program monthly to help them reach their goals.
“I feel like these workshops are great because we get to talk to a lot of students at once and give them more in depth information,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like that’s really good because they also need a reminder throughout the semester. Some of them may already know these tips or the strategies we talk about but they forget because they’re so busy.”
Mada Samb, a senior accounting major from Fort Worth is one of the lead ambassadors for the Student Support Services program in TRIO. The lead ambassadors help mentor 15 TRIO students each month.
“I think it’s very beneficial because we have a lot of students out there really needing that help,” Samb said. “Having that opportunity out there can be extremely helpful. It can get them not only different resources but connected to the right people as well.”
The average college student in the United States accumulates over $37,000 in student loan debt over four years. The average undergraduate student at ACU accumulates over $24,000 in student loan debt in their four years at ACU. Davis says it’s important for students to learn how to make wise financial choices.
“Pay attention to what you’re spending,” Davis said. “Manage your money now and don’t be afraid to live like a college student. Do it now because if you don’t manage your money now it will be a lot harder down the road.”