CSUSB hosted a week-long event to celebrate “National First-Generation College Celebration” for first-generation students by including events that provided adulthood tips and financial management advice.
Many of the students spoke about financial struggles as well as academic struggles throughout their first year of college.
Victoria Argot, Student Assistance in Learning (SAIL) counselor, also a first-generation student, spoke about her financial struggles as an undergrad.
“I think my experiences mirrors a lot of my students, a lot of times you come from a household where finances are very tight,” said Argot. “You as a student are also providing to that mean, the income for that main household, securing just basic needs.”
First Generation students at CSUSB may be struggling financially and often times it may even be a barrier in their academic career.
Argot said, “that definitely is something that a lot of students have challenges with. And, you know, they experienced throughout their time here at CSUSB and even after. I don’t come from a rich background, and my family, we would struggle to just make ends meet,” said Argot.
Erika Gutierrez, first-generation student, spoke about how her parents did not want her to get a job during her first year at CSUSB.
“At that time, being 18 years old, my parents had the mentality of focus on school and nothing but school,” said Gutierrez.
“As much as they struggled financially to help me and it was evident that they were struggling financially a lot,” Gutierrez continued. “They wouldn’t let me work no matter what I wanted to do to help them. They wouldn’t let me work for anything.”
According to Gutierrez, it wasn’t until her other sister went to college where her parents finally accepted the idea of getting a job.
“Now they don’t want me to stop working,” Gutierrez expressed.
Oscar Orozco, first-generation student and peer career educator, emphasized the fact that he would use all of the campus resources that were provided when struggling financially.
“I would definitely always go to the food Den and come back with bags of food for free,” said Orozco. “I go to the career center to get professional clothing.”
Orozco expressed how grateful he was to have resources like the Den and the Career Center closet because they helped him throughout his financial struggles.
Kristen Stutz, director of the Student Assistance in Learning (SAIL) Program, offered a few financial tips to first-generation students.
There are times where students are unaware of how to start a checking account, building credit, or saving for their retirement.
Stutz said, “Your life is going to change because you have a college degree and your financial future is going to have all these things. And it’s also going to get a little more complicated.”
Stutz has a background in finance, which is why she helps first-generation students with financial literacy and money management.
Stutz discusses many areas for money management, and how students should organize their spending.
“Document your income. When you hear that phrase, pay yourself first. Basically, what that means is pay. Fund your goals first,” said Stutz.
Argot and Stutz work hand in hand together for the Student Assistance in Learning Program to better the opportunities of first-generation students.
Argot discussed possible programs that will help students with money management and programs. She also explained that Kristen Stutz is available to students for planning and money advice.
“Kristen is available for our students to do budget planning and help them think about how to manage their financial aid awards. And then any expenses that they’ll have an academic year,” Argot expressed.
Many of the programs are open to first-generation students that need to learn more about budget planning and financial resources on campus.
“We have what is called cash course, an available online platform where students can learn about different topics related to financial literacy,” said Argot. “To support students and make sure that as we go through their educational journey, that they’re prepared.”