September 20, 2010
10-154

Kate Elliot
Communications Specialist

VSU Supports College Savings Month

 

VALDOSTA -- The nation recognizes College Savings Month as annual student loan commitments have more than doubled since 1992, according to the College Savings Plan Network. College-financing company Sallie Mae reports that seniors with at least one credit card graduate with an average of $4,138 in credit card debt, up 44 percent from 2004.

Sandra Griffin, assistant director of the Office of Financial Aid, is just one of Valdosta State University’s financial advisors who help students rise above debt and establish healthy savings practices throughout their college education and beyond.

“I enjoy helping students realize their dream of earning a college degree, but we are challenged by time constraints and regulations,” said Griffin, who began working at VSU in 1985. “The economy is unstable, which means that students should consider their finances now more than ever. Budgeting for college costs and living expenses is essential for them to enjoy a stable financial future.”

Even though tuition and fees have climbed 50 percent, according to the College Board, Griffin said higher education remains a solid investment. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that college graduates earn an average of $1 million more than high school graduates.

“I think one of the main reasons students are struggling to finance their education is because earnings/wages have not been able to keep up with the rising cost of living,” said Griffin, who earned a B.S. from Florida A&M University and a Master of Public Administration from VSU. “People aren’t able to save like they used to, and there are more opportunities to spend and borrow, which can get students into trouble.”

The College Savings Plan Network, an affiliate of the National Association of State Treasurers, offers a range of savings tips, cost calculators and information about tax-advantaged investment plans. Read more at the Network’s website, www.collegesavings.org/collegeSavingsMonth.aspx .

FinAid.org is a free public service site that provides a range of information about scholarships, loans and general saving strategies. Lean more about smart financial planning at www.finaid.org/ .

Griffin, who serves as a mentor for many students, said she hopes young people continue to learn more about the resources available to them before they get overwhelmed with debt. People have little control over rising costs and the economy, but they can equip themselves with the knowledge to navigate through these difficult times, said the mother of two.

“Everyone, especially students, should borrow wisely, check their credit reports early, and get a part-time job to supplement their expenses,” said Griffin, who strives to live each day by The Golden Rule. “It can be done. We have seen many students reach their educational goals with little to no financial baggage.”