Students learn how to get and stay out of debt

A CSUN professor presented a lecture on how to stay out of debt Wednesday to provide information to students who are struggling with high debts.

Dr. Linda Bradley, professor in family and consumer sciences, can relate to having debt problems and wanted to help students struggling with money.

“Many students don’t know their credit balance, what is left to pay off their car and who to pay first,” Bradley said.

Gayane Jerome, financial literacy coordinator at CSUN, started the financial workshop series four semesters ago. The turnout has not been great, but she believes the students who have attended have benefitted from it.

“More students are turning to loans and they don’t know the repay options,” Jerome said.

Students attending all the workshops are given a certificate of completion, which they can add to their resume, said Jerome.

Demonte Thompson, a junior finance major and peer financial mentor, said the workshops helped him personally and that having control of his budget created less stress for him, allowing him to focus on education.

Many of Thompson’s friends and family members do not have a lot of money and he wanted to learn how to make the most around the budget he had.

“I just paid off my debt and I want other students to know the feeling,” Thompson said.

Victoria Amran, a junior kinesiology major with minimal debt, is planning on attending medical school and knows her debt will grow fast. She enjoyed the resources that were given such as annualcreditreport.com and powerpay.org.

“I wanted to know how to control my budget,” Amran said.

Attending students were able to win a copy of CSUN alumna Ornelle Grosz’ book “Moneylicious.”

Bradley talked about how to calculate debt and determine whether a student has taken on too much credit debt. She told them to sum all their monthly payments, divide it by the total money income and multiply with 100, which will give them the percentage of debt they are in.

“Ten to 14 percent is healthy,” Bradley said. “Hitting over 20 percent you are in financial problems and prevent you from getting additional credit if needed.”

Bradley advised students to start paying down their credit card debt while being in college and to make their own debt plan. She suggested pulling a free credit report online from annualcreditreport.org and getting their balance.

“Bankruptcy should be your last resort when all else fails,” Bradley said.

Prioritize your payments and taking into account the small things you can change, like eating out and entertainment, said Bradley.

Bradley explained what worked for her, not carrying her credit cards and instead pay with cash or a debit card. She has two granddaughters and she has problems preventing herself from buying everything to them.

“Give your card to someone you trust or freeze them, but don’t put them in the microwave,” said Bradley.

The key to success is to forgive yourself and move on when you slip on your goal, said Bradley.