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Center leading students in financial responsibility

Student Money Management Center Lunch and Learn
Coordinator Suzanne Applegate (back right) talks to students about terms and practices they will need to be familiar with as they become financially independent.

Caught up in the bustle of college life, many students may not know that they can already be planning for financial success. The Student Money Management Center at the University of North Georgia is educating students about the many financial decisions and strategies they will soon face, and how to prepare for them now.

The center, which is entering its second year of operation, is planning events throughout the academic year that will help students understand personal finance, which can be daunting for some.

"Unfortunately, many students are not prepared to deal with their finances," said Suzanne Applegate, center coordinator. "Eighty-four percent of all college students have at least one credit card, and 68 percent of them have charged items to their credit cards knowing they didn't have the money to pay the bill. The average student loan debt has now surpassed $20,000 for an undergraduate degree, and this figure does not include popular 'private loans' that may have much higher interest rates."

Applegate added that many students also are not aware of how student loan debt can negatively impact their lives after college. The debt can adversely affect their ability to rent apartments, obtain car loans and acquire a mortgage for their first home.

"Learning about financial responsibility at this point in life is going to greatly help students with current and future budgeting issues," said Michelle R. Gilstrap, associate director for financial aid. "Students these days already have bills coming from sources such as cell phones, rent and car payments so it's important that they learn these money management skills now for a lifetime of financial responsibility."

Using financial expert Dave Ramsey's book "Foundations in Personal Finance," the center is offering classes and discussions based on the author's teachings. The lessons are geared toward providing practical skills and techniques that can be immediately implemented in students' lives.

"We will teach students how to manage and eliminate debt from their lives so they can have what they want," Applegate said. "They will learn how to communicate effectively about money with family, roommates and other significant people in their lives. We will also discuss how to negotiate rental contracts, which directly affect UNG students. Also, if students currently have issues with creditors we can help. We want our students to have the knowledge to become wealthy and the desire to be giving, generous people."

The Student Money Management Center will be holding free lunch and learn workshops every Wednesday through Oct. 11 with food provided by the Parent's Association. Each session will focus on a chapter of Ramsey's book, and will be held from noon to 1 p.m. in room 260 of the Stewart Student Success Center on the Dahlonega Campus. Events are open to students from all UNG campuses.

The Student Money Management Center is located in the Stewart Student Success Center, room 314. Center hours are Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to noon. To visit the site online and learn about events and access other resources, please click here.

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