Kennebunk High School Senior Kyle Merchant dreams of going to UMass Amherst next year. He’s applied for dozens of scholarships, plans to work two jobs this summer and save as much money as he can to help pay for his tuition.
“The most important thing is really conserving the money that I have,” said Merchant.
According to the Finance Authority of Maine, Merchant is right on track, looking at what college will cost him and planning on how to reduce his student loan debt before it gets out of control.
Student loans, budgeting, and credit lines were just a few of the topics the Kennebunk High Senior Class was introduced to at the Financial Literacy Day held at UNE March 22. The guidance department at the high school arranged the first ever event to inform students about how to manage their finances and lifestyle choices once they graduate and go on to college or hold jobs.
Education Foundation of the Kennebunks and Arundel founder Ted Damon said students need to become financially literate and he supported funding the $2,550 program without hesitation.
“We are pleased to support any program that deepens their knowledge of finances before they go further in life,” said Damon.
F.A.M.E. reports that Maine college students of 2010 graduated with an average debt of $29,983. Mary Dyer of F.A.M.E. went on to explain what that means for a graduate in terms of monthly payments and the necessary salary to make those payments.
“You need to think about your indebtedness,” said Dyer. Every dollar you save now is a dollar you don’t have to borrow.”
Changing lifestyle habits and using budgets to save money were other concepts presented to students. F.A.M.E. presenter Mila Tappan said curbing your spending on little things, like coffee or pizza, adds up to big cash in a matter of months.
“If I could have every student sit down and do a budget as they become responsible for their money, that would be terrific,” Tappan said.
KHS senior Helen Holway might be convinced to do just that. “It was eye opening,” she said. “You could imagine doing it in your future.”
About 100 students attended the Financial Literacy Day. Kennebunk Savings Bank and F.A.M.E. provided presenters and materials for the event. RSU21 provided the bussing.