Otters get empowered about student loans

Around 20 California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB) students attended a “Feeling Empowered About Student Loans” seminar on Thursday, Oct. 12 for free tacos and important financial literacy information.

The seminar was hosted by The Second Year Experience (SYE) team and led by financial empowerment educator, facilitator and coach Rita Zhang.

Zhang brings more than 14 years of social justice experience from movement-building, direct service and education spaces to her financial work. She also founded Community Roots Financials (CRF) to create and hold space for low-income and working-class communities to be whole, joyful and free through financial empowerment.

Otters were given the option to attend the event from the comfort of their own homes through Zoom or could attend in person at the CSUMB Otter Student Union (OSU). 

Students who attended the workshop enjoyed complimentary tacos while Zhang explained fundamental financial concepts for navigating student loans and payment plans. 

The first portion consisted of introductions. It was held in a discussion-based structure, where Zhang introduced vocabulary such as consolidation, refinance and deferment. She also familiarized students with basic concepts like distinctions between the types of loans. 

The second half of the seminar went into more detail about complex concepts and helped students create plans of action for beginning to pay off their loans after graduation.

Zhang motivated students to be more involved in their finances by encouraging them to participate in monitored activities and peer discussions.

Students participated in activities such as a free write and an action planning activity. 

One especially important concept that Zhang shared with students was regarding payment plans.

Zhang explained that a payment plan for student loans is a structured arrangement that allows college graduates to repay the money they borrowed to pay for school. It is important for students to know what money they are expected to pay off immediately after college and be aware of what interest, if any, is compounding. 

Zhang holds multiple free online Financial Literacy workshops throughout the semester for CSUMB students who are interested in becoming more financially educated.

The SYE team at CSUMB works to support students in identity development, career and major exploration, understanding financial literacy and developing mindfulness techniques to manage all the responsibilities of their schooling and beyond. 

To learn more about SYE and their events, students can go to the SYE website. 

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