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Expo Part of Effort to Help Students Develop Responsible Money Management Practices

Emily Dawson, PCC's graduation and student loan default specialist, leads a presentation on student loans during Wednesday's Financial Wellness Expo at the college.


WINTERVILLE—With the nation’s student loan debt hovering around $1.4 trillion with an 11.2 percent delinquency rate, Pitt Community College officials figured the start of fall semester would be a good time for students to learn about money management.

On Wednesday, the college hosted a Financial Wellness Expo in the Craig F. Goess Student Center to give students a chance to meet face-to-face with representatives from the local financial services industry. More than 400 students participated in the three-hour event, which was organized by PCC Success Navigators and covered everything from loans and budgeting to establishing good credit.

Marianne Cox, director of PCC’s VISIONS Career Development and Scholarship Program, said the expo was a great way for the 64 first-time college students who joined her program this fall to increase their financial literacy.

“Our students are having to make important financial decisions for the first time in their lives,” Cox said. “Many of them are living on their own for the first time and they’ve never had to budget or establish priorities based on finances. It’s important for them to understand that the money they receive for college needs to last for a period of time, whether it’s a semester, an academic year or whatever.”

VISIONS College Coordinator Steffen McGhee said he required the 17 students in the study skills course he teaches to attend the expo because the information it offered was so important. The students, he said, had to meet with the various representatives on hand for the event and document who they spoke with as part of a class assignment that also includes an essay in which they must detail what they learned.

“Money management isn’t a topic that’s really covered in high school; it’s mainly left to parents to teach their children,” McGhee said. “Most of the students we work with in VISIONS don’t really understand things like budgeting and student loans and that loans must be paid back.”

Because of the consequences that come with student loans, special presentations were held throughout the expo to address the topic. PCC Financial Aid Director Tamara Glaspie and Emily Dawson, the college’s graduation and student loan default specialist, led the presentations, which included information on how to best pay off student loans and the importance of satisfactory academic progress with regard to maintaining financial aid eligibility.

Students who attended the presentations were encouraged to consider the risks associated with taking out educational loans and to address their questions and concerns with PCC staff.

PCC Success Navigators Travis Kinsey and Susan Marsh, who coordinated the expo, said the event achieved its purpose of increasing the financial literacy of Pitt students and providing them with resources for financial wellness.

“The attending financial leaders within the community were impressed with the questions our students asked during the expo and applauded our efforts in promoting financial wellness,” Kinsey said. “As educators, it is extremely important to educate our students in financial literacy.”
Kinsey said the college plans to make the Financial Wellness Expo an annual event.