SUNY Oneonta Hosts Simulation On Personal Finance

By By Sarah Eames, The Daily Star, Oneonta, N.Y.

Students at SUNY Oneonta got to take a spin at life after graduation in a financial literacy program held at the college Wednesday.

Offering an educational spin on the classic board game Life, Making Cents of Life After College is designed to introduce students to the realities awaiting them after graduation and the resources available to help them, according to Making Cents Coordinator Kevin Sutton.

To participate in the interactive budgeting event, students completed surveys of several factors including their chosen career fields and where they planned to live after graduation. Organizers used the data to generate customized profiles based on starting salary, cost of living and even the thermostat settings they expect to keep in their future homes.

Students were issued paper play money to use throughout the stations, which mimicked real-life expenses including food costs, rent allowance, healthcare and entertainment and leisure-related expenses.

In addition to student volunteers and academic faculty, the event was staffed by representatives from the campus offices of financial aid, career development and health and wellness to offer insight on various aspects of budgeting.

Volunteers demonstrated how to fill out tax forms, make loan payments, apply for lines of credit, comparison-shop at the grocery store, providing pamphlets and online resources for students to use in the future.

Financial advisers from the local branches of NBT Bank and Sidney Federal Credit Union were on hand to discuss options for establishing savings and retirement funds. Agents from Edmeston-based insurance agency New York Central Mutual walked students through the process of choosing an insurance plan to suit their needs.

The multi-colored “Life Happens” wheel represented the randomness of unforeseen circumstances. Each color on the wheel corresponded to an unpredictable event and assigned a dollar value to each.

Participants each got two spins — one for good news — using a $10 coupon at a restaurant, $100 in birthday money, winning $60 in a raffle — and one for bad news — replacing a broken cell phone for $250, paying an additional $30 in late fees for a missed credit card payment, $280 for a trip to the emergency room.

“My personal belief is that educating students in finance benefits everyone,” Sutton said.

Even though the Making Cents program is funded through a grant from the SUNY system, Sutton said he is willing to help other schools improve the financial literacy of their students. Representatives from Marist College and New York University were also in attendance. After completing the circuit of advising stations, students were counseled to review their budget decisions with a financial adviser, who would recommend lifestyle changes such as finding a roommate or taking on a second job.

Sutton, who administers more than 20 additional Making Cents events throughout the year, said he designs many of the events to fulfill requirements for the school’s Leadership Education and Development (LEAD) program.

According to Emily Phelps, assistant director of student life and leadership at the college, students who participate in the LEAD program are encouraged to meet specific leadership learning outcomes by attending qualifying events on campus, and are eligible for a number of incentives including cords to wear at graduation and a documented history of their leadership involvement to use as a resumé supplement.

Phelps said 20 percent of the December graduating class received LEAD accolades, calling the program a “high-engagement initiative.”

This article provided by NewsEdge.