While many college students graduate with debt, programs at the University of Central Florida try to help students make healthy financial decisions.
Centsible Knights provides students with information and resources on financial literacy utilizing the tools and resources presented to them at orientation. The program was first launched November 2015.
“Upon entering UCF, I was utilizing financial aid,” said Stephanie Ferazzoli, junior human communication major. “A financial literacy program such as this would have indeed helped me while enrolling in classes.”
Incoming students this spring will receive emails to provide them with a direct link to specific online activities, such as the College Budgeting Activity, which will help students remain financially aware while they attend UCF.
“I received a few emails about it,” said Jenn Katz, senior graduate student of applied exercise physiology. “As a transfer student, I was basically offered an aid package.”
Approximately two-thirds of students who attend UCF receive some type of financial assistance. The state of Florida averaged $24,947 per borrower.
Advisers within the program suggest students create a budget, begin saving for their future, which includes understanding earnings, evaluating credit and considering student loans and how to manage them.
Students are also urged to apply for scholarships often, as many go unused, and if students must take out a loan, only take what is needed.
Since the program’s inception over 9,500 unique visitors have visited the Centsible Knights website.
“The website is a convenient way for students to be able to garner knowledge about financial topics like healthy spending, saving, understanding earnings, protecting personally identifiable information and student loan management,” said Karemah Manselle, Office of Student Financial Assistance associate director.
Presentations offered on the comprehensive site include specific financial topics such as, “How to Manage Your Financial Aid Refund,” “Understanding How Credit Impacts Your Employability,” “Maximizing Your Scholarship Potential” and Loan Repayment Seminars.
The Loan Repayment Seminar is geared toward Knights who are about to graduate, offered both in the fall and spring semesters. Understanding the variety of loan repayment options is crucial to students looking to graduate.
“I made many mistakes financially when I was younger that I had to work very hard to correct,” Katz said. “I have already started early payback and a savings account for my education costs.”
According to the UCF Office of Student Financial Assistance, the average debt for 2015 UCF graduates was $21,824.
“I think it is extremely important for graduating students who are student borrowers to understand there are a variety of loan repayment options available to them,” Manselle said. “If a student is finding student loan repayment burdensome or difficult, they should contact the student loan servicer who holds the loans.”
The program, being fairly new, is still incorporating better ways to serve Knights seeking guidance financially.
The Office of Student Financial Assistance is currently working on marketing the program further to ensure that students, incoming and outgoing, are aware of all the program has to offer.
Originally published Dec. 11, 2016.