Helping students budget for financial responsibilities

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Monetary concern is part of everyday living no matter what walk of life students come from. Between tuition costs, transportation, housing and necessary commodities such as food; all students feel the sting of capital weight. This can be daunting and especially distracting when trying to focus on business classes or which William Blake poems to remember for December’s finals. Needless to say, this weight is felt across the board and budgeting appropriately is not a simple task.

“Every case is different, and I talk to students from all backgrounds,” says financial aid and awards officer, Nazma Shahria, “no situation is black and white, but that’s why we’re here, to help students figure out what works for them.”

On average, the cost of living in Saint John is lower than elsewhere in Canada, but because it stands at 10-30 per cent lower than other Canadian cities, the pricing of consumables (food, clothing, etc.) is often higher (http://www.saintjohnlifeonyourterms.ca/cost-of-living.html). With this in mind, what students stock their cupboards with must be done with an anti-frivolous attitude. Buying in bulk is always a great way to save money in the long run, especially foodstuffs high in starch such as rice, potatoes, lentils and pasta. They may not be the healthiest choices, but carbohydrates and starches give the body energy and are extremely filling.

“I generally eat yogurt and oatmeal for breakfast; it’s cheap!” says Baron contributor, Ocean-Leigh Colleen Peters, “I’m also big on sandwiches and I never buy something if it’s not on sale.”

Peters’ methodology concerns necessity above anything else, which falls into Shahria’s perspective on student finances. Students need to find out what works best for their circumstance, and programs like Sobeys’ and Superstore’s Tuesday student discounts offer a leg up on this quest. Every Tuesday the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) Safe Ride offers transportation to and from Sobeys for the 10 per cent savings; the only thing that students need to participate is their student ID.

There are a plethora of other programs offered by UNBSJ to help students adjust to the adult world of financial responsibilities. Shahria’s office offers part-time bursaries for part-time students; special bursaries are offered once a year; and emergency funding is obtainable for students in urgent situations. All cases must be within reason and are based on the particular needs of the student, but all students are eligible.

“We are here to help,” says Shahria, “it’s important that students understand that and know what their options are.”