Life
Why you should stay optimistic about your funds
By
Life Editor
Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Although research conducted at Ohio State University finds that a whopping 70 percent of college students worry about their personal finances, Wake Forest students (and parents) have many reasons to be hopeful.

The researchers specify that the worry is not only over the amount of debt students will accrue after obtaining a four-year degree, but also over monthly personal expenses that arise from rent, food and entertainment.

At Wake Forest, the average graduate of the class of 2013 faced $35,902 in student debt according to the staff of the Office of Personal and Career Development.

As far as monthly personal expenses are concerned, they vary by student — but the University estimates $3,800 in personal expenses over the academic year (including books and transportation), which comes to roughly $500 each month.

Parents and students: the university is not lying to you when it comes to these figures.

I consider myself in this average when it comes to finances as I will graduate with similar debt.

At first, I thought the university’s estimate of personal expense had to be a joke, saying to myself, “Yeah right, who would actually spend $3,800 a year?”

I found by looking at my bank statements, to my surprise, that turned out to be me.

Students who travel out of state to go home and make average purchases for supplies and entertainment will face large personal expense at Wake Forest.

For example, students will spend at least $60 round trip getting to and from local airports and rail stations around Winston-Salem, unless they carpool with a friend.

In that case, the friend is paying for it through their $315 freshman parking permit and gas.

Transportation is an unavoidable expense at Wake Forest and a large part of your overall personal expense. A small piece of advice to incoming freshman is only to bring a car to school if you are absolutely sure you need it.

Otherwise, pitch in some money to ride with a friend or sign up for Zipcar so that you only pay for as much car as you need.

Other purchases such as food, drink and entertainment around Winston-Salem are a little bit cheaper when compared to similar purchases up north. Also, Wake Forest makes work-study opportunities available to a large number of students.

If this is part of your financial aid package, use it. Many students report that their work-study experience is actually a benefit to their studies, social lives and their wallets.

And if work-study is not part of your aid package, locations such as the ZSR Library and the Miller Center will still hire you.

Junior Truitt Harshaw began to work at the Miller Center gym after a friend recommended him.

“Having a job on campus is a nice thing to structure your day around outside of class hours,” Harshaw said.  “I like to work early shifts to make sure I›m out of bed a few hours before class. The North Carolina minimum wage isn›t great for low level jobs, but if you can work enough hours, it›s worth it.”

Overall, managing personal expenses at Wake Forest is not that difficult as long as you practice a little moderation.

“My biggest money management tip would be to set realistic spending limits for yourself,” junior Karly Ball said. “Recognize that it’s okay to buy impractical things sometimes as long as you exercise moderation that works with your budget.”

One final thought about money at Wake Forest is this: according to research by PayScale Human Capital, a Wake Forest education yields an estimated 20-year return on investment that reads $496,000 even without the help of financial aid.

This optimistic figure goes to show that incoming freshman at Wake Forest are fortunate to look forward to the next four years with hope of great personal success instead of worrying about excessive personal debt.