Jo Young Switzer
WE HAVE A BELL CHIME, but no ivory tower at Manchester. Students
here and across the nation found it harder to pay their tuition this fall.
The lingering recession has diminished families’ savings and for some,
has led to unemployment and underemployment. Some families’
mortgages are under water, their borrowing power weakened.
MU is not isolated from these challenges. Several
who wanted to be in our first-year class this fall
could not attend because even with substantial
financial aid, they could not pay anything.
How are we responding? Our financial aid
programs optimize support for students. The
SALT program (of nonprofit American Student
Assistance) provides our students with expert
advice about loan consolidation, payment
options, personal finance and more.
We are offering three sections of the Financial Responsibility course
this fall, and they are all full. It is dismaying how many students never
consider the difference between “needs” and “wants.” In my annual
convocation about students’ finances, I encourage them to reflect their
values in the ways they allocate their money.
After one such talk, a junior handed me her credit card – chopped into
pieces. I have a stack of Get a Financial Life books, and students stop
by to ask for one – for free, of course. After all, they are students!
Many of you have helped us with your monetary gifts to Manchester.
Last year, we gave $17.5 million in financial support to students, with
only $800,000 of that from earnings provided by endowed
scholarships. Most came from our own allocations, student tuition and
your gifts. Students’ needs always exceed what we can give them.
Manchester is not an ivy-covered sanctuary, protected from economic
pressures. It is a place where we grapple with tough financial challenges
and work together to find healthy solutions so our students can learn.
JO YOUNG SWITZER