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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


College freedom shifts decisions

College is a time to take charge, branch out and tackle that treasured independence. For many students, it’s the first time they will be handling their own finances without mom or dad.

A research project at the UA is looking into when in life people act more independently money-wise and how that affects overall well-being.

Researchers at the School of Family and Consumer Sciences started the study by surveying over 2,000 students in the 2007 freshman class. Researchers chose college students because of their proportionally higher debt rates.

“”That’s when they start to make a lot of independent decisions,”” said Joyce Serido, an assistant research professor of family and consumer sciences and co-principal investigator and project manager.

Serido said it was fortunate the study commenced just as the most recent financial crisis began. Because of the broad view of the study into how financial behaviors are formed, the research team has contacted the original participants, now seniors, to know how their financial habits have changed and what factors motivated those changes.

As these students prepare for post-college life, Serido says they might find themselves “”more interested in stable jobs, where they can make a lot of money while they can,”” Some of those originally surveyed may no longer be in school as a result of economic hardship, she added.

Family and Consumer Sciences Director Soyeon Shim transformed the two-year-old data into a model to display important factors in the students’ financial attitudes.

One of the most important factors the model showed was the roles parents play, both financially and otherwise.

“”Young people who were able to communicate well with their parents were less stressed about financial issues and more responsible in that area,”” Serido said.

The first round of surveys were used to help improve student awareness in financial areas. Some of this data is now used for financial managing, budgeting and savings workshops held during orientation week. On a state level, the Arizona Legislature changed the lending rules of payday loans companies in light of some of the team’s findings.

The Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid’s estimate of the average cost of attendance for the UA also tries to understand student’s behaviors when spending money. To ascertain these figures, the office sends out surveys to randomly selected students.

Surveys are conducted every three years. The next questionnaires should be sent out sometime next month to 1,800 students, according to John Nametz, the director of Student Financial Aid.

The financial aid office gets high response rates from students as compared to other universities by providing insights into student spending behavior, Nametz said.

Monetary issues can affect people in all areas of life, which is why a study on how behaviors are formed is of great significance, Serido pointed out. She also mentioned it is the only one of its kind out there at an international level.

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