CUT UP YOUR CREDIT CARDS, shun shopping malls like the plague, take the bus
and live with your parents for three years after college.
Bet THAT makes our alumni parents shiver in their boots.
Some students in Associate Professor Frank Olive’s Financial Responsibility class
last January presented the “parent solution” for their final project. Living off your
parents, taking the bus to work and forgoing travel for three years will clear your
college debt, they surmised.
Frankly, students in the class also were shuddering.
Life lessons in personal finance fill the Manchester experience … from financial aid
counseling to the packed Financial Responsibility classes to students lobbying
legislators for state aid to annual spring lectures by President Jo Young ’69 Switzer,
who doesn’t sugarcoat:
“Regardless of your major and your career, big or
small paycheck, every single one of you will need to
manage your finances. Be clear about the difference
between your wants and your needs. We don’t need everything we want. Ever thought about that?
“A big house, the latest in skinny jeans, fancy foods
and drinks, a new car – are wants. We need protein.
We want steaks. We need water. We want Pepsi. We
need a way to travel. We want our own cars …”
Switzer’s lecture – always to a packed room – is filled
with solutions for managing student debt. Nowadays,
she even hands out free books on personal finance.
One time, a student was waiting at the stage
afterward, handing the president her credit cards, cut
up in little pieces. An instant convert.
“There are several ways that ‘the Smiths’ can
immediately help themselves and get out of debt
faster than the rate that they are currently getting
there,” explained Brittany Thomas ’15, Quentin
Muehlich ’15x and Matthew Gray ’14 in their class
presentation for Professor Olive last January.
Consolidating debt was key in their report, which
included detailed spreadsheets for a fictitious couple.
They also offered lots of suggestions echoed by
President Switzer: Cut entertainment, dining,
recreation and travel expenses dramatically. Reduce
Each year, about 170 MU students create models of
debt management for FIN 204, a three-credit-hour
Financial Responsibility course taught by Olive and
Jen Lutz, associate professor of accounting and
business; and Dave Haist ’73, lecturer. The class is
part of MU’s CORE curriculum of responsible
citizenship that teaches the importance of
establishing credit, managing and reducing debt,
budgeting and long-term money management.
“These students, acting as a team of ‘financial
advisors,’ have produced a detailed analysis of a
realistic financial situation facing a married couple,
recently graduated from college,” says Olive. “They
have developed a set of solid recommendations that
can enable their ‘clients’ to eliminate or greatly
reduce their debts and move forward to meet their
The students showed how “the Smiths” could
quickly climb into the black within a couple of years
while saving for the future. (Their solution did not
include living with their parents.) “I learned that it is
wiser to live off less money than is made, and to
focus on things needed and not things wanted,” says
Gray, a communication studies major from
Devin Jenkins ’14 is among hundreds of students
who have learned financial responsibility by handling
their own money during their time at Manchester. An
accounting major, personal money management may
come easier to Jenkins than others. She works for the
MU Office of Student Financial Services and has
completed an internship with Crowe Horwath LLP,
which was so impressed, it offered her a job – three
semesters before she takes her CPA exam.
Jenkins credits Manchester’s scholarships, financial
advising and two campus jobs for making her money
management less stressful. “MU provided me with
the chance to take a Personal Finance class, which
helped me learn more about the different types of
student loans, credit cards, mortgages and investment
opportunities after graduation,” she says.
“The SALT program helped me manage the status of
my student loans and provided me with a portal to
learning more about different types of debt as well as
options for repayment.”
A recipient of Trustee, Gilbert Memorial, and
McGradrey and Pullen Fund scholarships, Jenkins
lightened her expenses by fulfilling some of
Manchester’s highest academic standards when she
enrolled. But she knows she will have some debt after
Every Manchester undergraduate student receives
financial aid from a variety of sources. Indeed,
Manchester consistently receives high praise from
popular guides for college-bound students as a
“Great College, Great Price” or “Best Value.” MU
students graduate with about $5,000 less debt than
the average private college graduate.
Without any aid or scholarships, Manchester’s
undergraduate tuition, room, board and fees total
about $36,250 this academic year. Books are another
$1,000, but can cost more, depending on the major.
Last year, the average need-based financial aid
package totaled more than $24,000, including more
than $4 million in scholarships funded by generous
donors. (The Students First! campaign seeks
$15 million for endowed scholarships to increase
opportunities for students to attend MU.) Federal
and state aid round out the package the University’s
financial aid counselors create for students.
In addition to part-time jobs on and off campus
(400 students are on the MU payroll), students turn
to their grandparents and proud aunts and uncles,
troll for corporate and service club scholarships, and
ask their parents to take out loans. Savings rarely are
For Jenkins, her Manchester degree is priceless.
“Manchester is worth the money because it is known
for producing well-rounded and educated young
business professionals. When I talk to professionals
in the accounting and finance industries, one of the
first things they say when they find out I attend
Manchester is ‘Great choice!’”
Three years ago, psychology major Andrew Kirts ’13 chose Manchester partly because of the financial aid
package. “I earned the Trustee Scholarship as a
first-year student and then received an additional
endowed scholarship and other awards in the
following years. Manchester worked with me to give
me the aid I needed.”
Kirts’ stellar academic career at Manchester paid off
– he will graduate this spring debt free.
BY CHAZ BELLMAN ’13
The Bottom Line
Manchester has a legacy of affordable higher education,
recognized by the leading guides for college-bound
students as a “Great College, Great Price” and “Best Value.”
Scholarships, a Manchester tradition
Every year, MU awards more than $4 million in academic
scholarships. In tough financial times a couple years ago,
department leaders cut their budgets so Manchester would
not have to cut aid to students. Endowed scholarships help
make Manchester affordable.
MU speaks up
“Education is an investment in the future. It is worth
saving for. It is worth borrowing for. Today, nearly all
motivated students can find a way to afford college if they
are willing to make sacrifices,” President Switzer wrote in
one of several opinion pieces about financing higher
education published in major Midwest newspapers. Every
budget year, MU students lead the charge to the Indiana
Statehouse, where they explain what state aid means to
their families and what they plan to do with their
Manchester inaugurated this high-tech service of American
Student Assistance that puts students in the financial
driver’s seat. Students manage their loans and practice for
the “real world” with online scenarios on consolidating their
debt, planning financial success and even finding jobs.
And, it’s free.
Fast Forward and Triple Guarantee
Qualified, motivated MU students can get their degree in
three years, saving tuition, room and board and entering
the job market (and pay) a year early. Manchester also
guarantees aid for every student, graduation within four
years and a job within six months of graduation.