Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Pembroke High students learn to deal with debt at Credit for Life fair – Wicked Local Pembroke

Pembroke High School students may have college, the workforce or the military lying ahead of them, but in the meantime, juniors and seniors received a lesson on how to plan for their financial future.

During a Credit for Life fair on Thursday, March 14, upperclassmen were handed a sheet with theoretical monthly payment requirements as they went from booth to booth in the school gymnasium to learn how much items such as rent, car payments, insurance and food costs will be.

Now in its third year, the dollar amounts have been changed to be “fresh and accurate,” according to Pembroke Public Schools Communications Specialist Sharon Monteforte. All students are assigned college debt, regardless of their plans after high school, and the amount is based on a mid-level college.

“The kids are loving this and I really think it’s the best one so far,” said Monteforte. “They are really just soaking up the information. This year, we added a savings and retirement booth so kids can think about once they get a real job out of college, they can put money aside and into a 401K account.”

According to event co-organizer Henry Galligan, one-third of the students understand how they will balance money, one-third of the students don’t and don’t take things seriously, and the final third who want to understand and need to be reached out to the most.

“I talked to someone earlier today who was not going to college and understood that they need to get the basics of this type of thing,” said Galligan. “They need to understand it faster because they are entering the real world as opposed to someone who can crawl through the next four years. We just want everyone to understand how to make good choices.”

While the Credit for Life fair brought about a wealth of information as to students’ financial future, it also brought headaches for some as well.

Pembroke High School senior Emilee Barnes will be attending cosmetology school to become a hairdresser after graduation and after the lessons learned at the fair, she realized she needs to start being more cautious with money now, not just after graduating.

“I plan on living with my parents until I’m 21 and the program I’m going to be taking is $28,000,” she said. “By the time I’m done with school, my parents want me to be completely done with all of the payments. I have to start thinking about finances a lot more now.”

To prove that life is full of surprises, one of the booths students visited was for a reality check. After spinning the wheel, students could be dealt something they didn’t plan on. Bills could be racked up by cracked cell phone screens, veterinary bills for sick pets, parking tickets and medical bills. Not everything was negative, as they were able to receive work bonuses for hard work and unexpected inheritances from deceased relatives.

When Pembroke Superintendent of Schools Erin Obey came on a site visit when she was interviewing for the position four years ago, one of the focus groups she came across was high school students. One of the questions she asked of the students was, “what do you think we haven’t prepared you for after high school?”

Some of the answers were not being able to balance a checkbook and how to get a car loan, according to Obey. This type of “real life instruction” can be equally as important as what is learned on a regular basis in the classroom, according to Obey.

Since college or going straight into the workforce out of high school is not for everyone, Massachusetts Army National Guard Sgt. Matthew Russell was on hand to inform students on what the military can offer. High school juniors can join at age 17 with parents permission as part of their split option. Recruits would complete basic training during the summer before their senior year, finish their school year, complete their job training within the military and then enter into college.

Seniors would begin their job training and basic training at the same time immediately after high school unless they are already accepted into college. In that scenario, they could do their basic training during the summer before college and would do their job training after their first semester of college.

There are also ROTC scholarships offered, and if they are awarded, students can do the ROTC training within the college and do not have to go to basic training. They will be ranked as an officer upon completion.

“A lot of kids don’t have faith in themselves and think that they can’t physically hack basic training,” Russell said. “It’s not the case because a lot of times, it’s just about giving their effort and the Army really sets you up for success. They don’t want to see you fail and they do everything they can to make you succeed. I always tell them that they will come out in the best shape of their life, they’ll be prepared as an Army-trained soldier to take on the world.”

Follow Adam Silva on Twitter @AdamSMariner.


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