Group offers financial advice to help students plan

The Florida A&M University Chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People hosted “Economic Empowerment: Changing Your Future Today,” a seminar that addressed various money management issues students face.

The seminar, held Monday in the Perry-Paige Auditorium, gave students tips to achieve financial freedom.

“This is a new initiative that our administration thought was necessary,” said Andrew Collins, FAMU NAACP president.

“One of the aims for the chapter is the advancement in economic stability for minorities.

This seminar is one of the many ways we plan to execute that responsibility,” explained Collins, a 21-year-old business administration student from Atlanta.

The seminar had three guest speakers: Jared Wofford, Joel Rodriguez and Allen Null.

Among the issues addressed by the guest speakers was credit among college students. “A lot of students struggle with credit,” said Wofford, founder of 850speak, an organization designed to teach youth about finances. “The credit card companies’ main target is college students.”

Wofford said students can check their credit report for free once a year from the three major providers, Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. “It is good to check your credit report at least once a year,” Wofford said. “If you manage your credit you can have leverage.”

Wofford also encouraged students to check their credit report from each credit report provider. “It is important to check your credit from all three companies,” Wofford said. “Every bureau may not have the same items in your credit report.”

Budgeting was also addressed in the seminar.

“Some students don’t understand that credit is borrowed money,” said Rodriguez, operations manager for Sears in Governor Square Mall.

“Make sure that your expenses are kept in line. Too many don’t see the significance of budgeting. Don’t go with what you want, go with what you need.”

Another issue addressed during the seminar was loans. “Loans might be bad while you’re in college, however, they are a vehicle to teach you responsibility,” Wofford said. “If you are a student and have a Stafford Loan, that type of loan will be on your credit report. This will help you to establish credit.”

However, there can be a negative effect with too many loans.

“If you have too many loans, a lender can refuse to lend you more money,” Wofford said. “Too many loans can also bring your credit score down.”

All three guest speakers encouraged students to pay their bills on time, be responsible about their credit and have discipline of their money management.

“Pay your bills on time,” Rodriguez said. “The benefits will come to you later.”

Eventually, neglecting to make a payment on credit cards or other obligations will have an effect on your credit report. “Once an item appears on your credit report, it will take another seven years to remove it from your credit report,” Wofford explained.

Null, a financial adviser for Waddell & Reed said, “It is not how much you make but is what you keep. Start saving. Until you start saving money, you have made nothing. For every 100 (dollars) save 10.”

Five out of 10 people will achieve financial independence by the time they are 65, Null said. “Financial independence is doing what you want, when you want and where you want.”

To learn more on financial independence, credit and money management, visit