Published On: Mon, Oct 14th, 2013

Student Opportunities: Student financial planning

Student Opportunities by Constance OwlHow fortunate are we, the students of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, to have the benefit of our Minor’s Fund along with the funding and incentive support provided by our Higher Education Office. These funds have the ability, if responsibly planned for, to secure our financial future both during and after our years as a student. But to make the most of this gift, responsible management is needed and should be an important part of your student plan. Thankfully, our tribe recognized a few years ago that far too many graduating students were not responding responsibly to the advantages the Minor’s Fund was affording them. Now, students must complete a brief online course to help them understand the implications and opportunities these funds can provide. I will soon be taking this course (even though my own distribution is still a year away) and it will help me appreciate the enormous responsibility I have before me to manage and plan my financial future maturely.

It has been a great advantage to me to have had the opportunity to watch my older siblings make these important decisions regarding their Minor’s Fund. Although both were funded through Higher Education, scholarships, and college based grants for their education funding, they both approached their Minor’s Funds with slightly different plans. There is no one sure way for students to find financial planning success, but we have all heard disturbing stories about how students completely ran through their Minor’s Fund distribution in less than a year, and then had nothing left to pay taxes with, start a business, or to utilize in beginning their post graduate lives with. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and will probably be the most important financial decision you will ever make; and one that has the potential of affecting you at retirement age- some fifty years from now!

Take it seriously fellow students! A new vehicle will lose its value the minute you drive it off the sales lot, designer clothes will fade and go out of style in a year, and loans made to friends and family rarely get paid back. Your future is on the line. My older sister who graduated from college two years ago still has a portion of her Minor’s Fund invested for her retirement, and waited until her college graduation to buy a new car with her Minor’s Fund (and still used her GPA incentives and graduation bonus for a down payment). My brother graduated in June but managed his money so well that he is able to take six months off pursuing a passion that wasn’t in his degree field (he also paid for an amazing opportunity to live in Greece for a month with a fellow student he met at college his freshman year). These big life payoffs would not have been possible without forethought and financial planning.

Don’t forget the big picture when your Minor’s Fund is open for withdrawal and plan carefully with your future, and not this minute, in mind.

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