Students Get Help Anticipating Their Financial Future at “BC+5”

The “Count on Your Future, BC+5” event helps Berea College students project their likely financial state 5 years after they graduate. The event, scheduled for Tuesday, October 21st, helps students anticipate what their income and expenses might be five years after graduation.

Students at BC+5 2013Nancy Melton, Director of Student Financial Aid at Berea College and producer of the “BC+5” event says, “When students graduate from Berea, we want them to be successful in every way including financial management.  BC+5 helps them have a better idea of expected income and expenses five years after graduating from college.”

Sponsored by Berea College’s Office of Student Financial Aid and the Kentucky River Foothills organization, the program involves more than 30 individuals helping students with their financial planning. “This program is intended to provide a realistic expectation of a starting salary and all the expenses our students may incur for items such as transportation, food, housing, child care, pet care, insurance, retirement, entertainment, and vacations,” Melton adds.

The event typically takes less than an hour for most students. After registering, students are given a checklist of the many items they are likely to pay for as working adults. The items are separated into categories including Necessities, Debts, Benefits, and Quality of Life. Students are asked to imagine — in detail — what their family situation is likely to be five years after graduation: Married? Kids? Homeowner? Job? Salary?

During the “BC+5” event, students pass through a number of stations where advisors and volunteers review the students’ projections and suggest changes based on real-world data and calculated projections based on specific variables such as geographic region, urban or rural setting, etc. After completing the process, the students are able to assess whether or not they are considering a sustainable budget, perhaps looking at a lot of debt, or likely to be able to save money.

“When we had our first BC+5 last year,” Melton said, “we had over 200 students and volunteers attending. I was excited to see so many students intently interested in learning their beginning salaries and finding if they budgeted wisely they could pay their bills and save for retirement and vacations. Some students who were making plans to get married attended together and worked as a couple to make sure they had enough funds to get married.”

Melton states, “Many of our volunteers said they were impressed by how serious the students treated this exercise. When surveyed, 87% of the students felt their knowledge of money management had increased considerably by attending the ‘BC+5’ event. Many said it was well worth the time it took to go through this program.”

“We are hoping that even more students will take advantage of this great learning opportunity and take a few minutes from their busy schedule to attend BC+5 this year,” Melton continues, adding that, “If it’s as popular this year as its debut event one year ago, it’s likely to become a perennial.”

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