Help students prepare for their financial lives after college

Michael Lazenby, Senior Columnist

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the January 25 flipbook.

Students worry about their financial well-being. Whether they’re a finance or philosophy major, all students should feel fiscally confident upon graduation. While the University helps students become familiar with many topics, an emphasis on financial literacy is neglected.

The University must help prepare all students to navigate their current and future financial circumstances by hosting a week long, annual financial literacy seminar.

The proposed seminar would feature certified financial planners and UT alumni. Speakers would cover topics ranging from basic budgeting and saving strategies to tax planning and setting up a retirement account.

Radio-television-film freshman Navarra Chakeres explained the value she sees in UT hosting an annual financial literacy seminar.

“That (annual) seminar structure would be great because it leaves room for discussion, which I think is the most important thing,” Chakeres said. “For people with no experience (with budgeting or financial planning), being able to not just have a lecture, but … a dialogue would be really fantastic.”

While Texas Financial Wellness — the recently established financial wellness department — holds hour-long workshops throughout the semester, many students are unable to fit these sporadically scheduled seminars into their calendars.

In addition to the ones that already exist, UT should create a formally advertised, annual weeklong seminar that covers a range of topics. This structure would allow students to plan ahead and set time aside to attend the seminar, which could increase student attendance and engagement.

While Texas Financial Wellness hosts seminars held by financial experts, students aren’t able to gain the perspective of former students. Chakeres discussed the importance of having alumni speak at these events.

“I would absolutely be interested in attending that. If it was people who were formerly in my major, that would be fantastic,” Chakeres said. “They have more knowledge about (my field) specifically …and I think that would be good for everyone across the school, not just (economics) or business majors.”

While current seminars are open to all students, many might feel out of place or even embarrassed to seek financial help. A large-scale seminar might make students feel more comfortable to attend and pursue advice from those who were once in their shoes.

Traci Armes, deputy director at the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, expressed interest in hosting an annual seminar for students.

“We have tossed that idea around and we just launched in October, so we’re slowly rolling things out and building the program,” Armes said. “That is something that we’ve discussed about having not just at the University of Texas, but also at a national level, getting involved with different organizations that have financial wellness seminars.”

While it is a relatively new program, Texas Financial Wellness must be as accessible as possible for students. The topic of financial literacy is far too important to keep out of student reach.

“(Creating an annual seminar is) extremely feasible,” Armes said. “We have the space on campus, we have not just a faculty and staff that are interested in financial wellness, but we’ve seen a great interest among the students as we’re slowly rolling this program out.”

It would be understandable if the department was hesitant about the implementation of an annual seminar in addition to their current mini-seminars, but this isn’t the case. Students are graduating this semester. At the rate that the department is moving, these students likely won’t be able to attend an annual event before stepping into the next chapter of their lives.

While offering hour-long seminars covering specific topics can benefit students, many might not be able to attend. An annual and accessible seminar covering an array of relevant financial topics would help students become more confident in their financial futures beyond graduation. 

Lazenby is an economics junior from Chicago, Illinois.