UNA students discuss financial strain of paying for college

Although Notorious B.I.G. coined the famous line “Mo’ money, mo’ problems,” it seems many college students today would not agree.

A national survey of current college freshmen found they are more concerned with their financial success than previous freshmen, according to the American Freshmen Study.

“Back in 2008, 2009 and 2010, our country was going through some economic struggles,” said Ben Baker, director of student financial services. “A lot of these college students today, their parents might’ve had some financial problems.”

After looking back at her freshman year, junior Lauren Luker said she agrees with this survey.

“I feel like I’ve become more worried about it,” she said. “When I first got into college I thought that I’ll get my degree, go into my profession and pay off my loans.”

Freshman Ambreia McDaniel said she acknowledges she is not as worried as upperclassmen, but said she is still nervous about her standing with the university.

In some cases, there may be students who have not felt the financial stress of college.

“I feel the same amount of worriedness now as when I was a freshman,” said junior Emily Murphy. “I was never really that worried about money.”

Along with feeling more stressed, the survey also stated current freshmen are putting more emphasis on being financially well-off. When the survey asked how important it was to be financially well-off, most students said five out of five.

“I’m not going to waste four years of college just to have a minimum-wage job,” McDaniel said. “I want to be able to have a better life.”

Baker said one option for students can both alleviate their stress and get a head start on becoming financially stable: getting a job.

“Getting a job would be a great relief,” said freshman Kandice Chaffin. “I would be able to help my mom out more in paying for college.”

Luker said she is not as optimistic about having a job as some freshmen. She said when she got a job, she ended up switching guilt for more stress.

“For many students a job can help, and it can help in a manner other than just financially,” Baker said. “Another point is when a student gets over 20 hours a week, their work schedule and the workload that they are trying to do will cause problems with their academic work. Working is OK, but you’ve got to be careful managing the amount of time that you work while you’re in school.”

It is difficult to determine if the survey is accurate, Baker said, so each individual should focus on their own financial aid.

“Make sure you maintain you eligibility for scholarships or federal student aid,” he said. “Make sure you are providing the necessary amount of time on academics to allow you to succeed. So, my advice is that if you’re going to be a successful college student, you have to focus on academics first.”