I’m finishing up my master’s degree in art history at Columbia, which I funded entirely by myself. During the course of the past two years, I’ve wiped out my savings account, and taken out a number of student loans. As I come closer and closer to my graduation date, I’m beginning to realize the full weight of the personal debt that I have accrued. It’s scary to realize how much of my future earnings will go towards paying for my loans.
When I applied for the loans, I received almost no counseling from either the student aid office, or from the University. Now, I’m pretty much in the dark about what my interest rates mean, or how much I’ll have to pay back monthly. One of my greatest wishes is that I had spent more time LEARNING about the loans before I actually took them out. I feel as though the university failed me by not helping to educate me about my financial situation.
Which is why I am so encouraged by this article in the New York times by Ron Lieber, entitled “In College, Learning About Money.” It’s about Champlain College, a small, liberal arts school in Burlington, Vermont that is requiring all of their 2,000 undergraduate students to take two sessions in financial literacy.
The courses aim at giving students “financial sophistication,” which is something that, despite my double Ivy League degrees, I am lacking. I can only hope that the universities that I’ve attended, as well as other universities around the country, pick up on Champlain College’s lead. Otherwise, we’re going to have a nation of unemployed students with higher degrees that have no idea how to deal with, or alleviate, their own debts.