Opinion | Why students benefit from financial independence

Financial independence is a key step in students preparing for adulthood.

Yasmina Sahir, Opinions Columnist

Students who enter the workforce in some capacity in their late teens or early twenties may avoid larger financial mistakes or risk-taking behaviors later in life.

But for many, working can complicate one’s ability to receive financial aid. This leads many to not enter the work force during their college career.

While working as a full-time students is a difficult task, studies show financial independence helps young adults become fiscally responsible in the future.

But students who are financial aid dependent may choose not to get a job out of worry that it will lower their aid eligibility.

Financial aid eligibility is determined each year through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some student income is considered protected on the FAFSA. Dependent students annual income totaling under $7,040 is not used against the student.

For financially independent students, this number ranges from $10,950 to $17,550 depending on marital status, even as the liveable annual income for a single earner without children in Iowa is $24,043 in 2022.

An Expected Family Contribution (EFC) is the amount of money the government determines a student’s parent/guardian can pay to keep their child in school. A student’s EFC is still calculated even if parents are unable or choose not to pay for their child’s postsecondary education.

Federal regulations state students under 24-years-old who are unmarried and are not serving under active-duty military contracts still need to consider parental income during aid processes.

If parents refuse to provide tax information for the FAFSA, their student’s application will be rejected.

Even if students choose to work during the academic year, it’s hard to establish financial independence in college when the government expects parents to foot at least part of the constantly increasing tuition bills.

Chances are the economy is only getting worse as the U.S. heads into 2023. Establishing a safety net can be the difference between defaulting on students loans and making successful payments or living below the poverty line and avoiding bankruptcy.

Taking initiative to plan your financial plan early will help you succeed in the future.

A variety of classes in multiple areas of financial literacy are available at the UI. Students who wish to have personal advising sessions can speak to a financial aid counselor about budgeting, understanding credit, and more.

Balance between employment and schoolwork is also key. Working too many hours can be a distraction from homework or increase stress, cause chronic fatigue or burnout, and even lead some students to drop out of college entirely.

Although working can make it harder to sink into a “student first” mentality UI administration preach to students, you can learn more applicable skills from real life experiences in the workplace than in a lecture hall.

Plus, graduating with a well-rounded resume only helps a student’s post grad employment opportunities. In fact, it can raise life-long salary expectations.

No matter your desired job title, find a place in the workforce as a student. You’ll probably thank yourself later down the road.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.