Basden and Cohen: Affordability and personal finance

Affordability and personal finance go hand-in-hand at GW.

In our time here at GW, we have seen the University’s administration usher in a series of bold initiatives to address the issue of affordability. Initiatives such as fixed tuition for freshmen and additional offerings of need-based aid for all students exist because of key departments such as the Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Office of Development and Alumni Programs. Their diligent efforts seek to combat the everyday reality of students and their families struggling to pay for a private university education as well as the fundamental cost-drivers behind the ever-rising “price tag” of a college degree.

This op-ed is not intended to tell us what we already know: Despite the University’s unrivaled commitments to overall affordability, attending school at GW is still an expensive endeavor. As current graduate students and administrators, we seek to highlight the microeconomic importance of singular personal financial responsibility.

More than ever, Americans, both young and old, have been forced to rethink unsustainable spending and consumption habits. The events witnessed in the aftermath of the financial crises of 2008 left virtually no major industry or household unaffected. Tough decisions had to be made by parents and lending agencies that changed potential Colonials into state college students. Now that there is some semblance of a recovery occurring, it is important that we continue to heed the lessons learned. Individuals like us – young adults – must educate ourselves about financial literacy.

Recently, The Hatchet has been vigilant in covering aspects of financial literacy. It has covered topics like the cost of living for GW freshmen; managing money in a post-grad life; and managing credit in the real world. Though not the sexiest topic, financial literacy is a universal issue that affects nearly all college students from all socioeconomic backgrounds. It’s no secret that credit card agencies feast on newly eligible and credit-worthy students with misleading language that eventually leads to mountains of debt that takes years to come out of. It is not enough to be culpably gullible!

Young adults must begin to exercise discretion and restraint, and be proactive in making the right decisions when it comes to credit and, more broadly, our personal finances. GW’s administration can do more to educate its students about the benefits of financial literacy. Today, GW, in partnership with WETA public broadcast, will host “Your Life, Your Money.” The event, co-sponsored by HSBC Bank, will feature a partial documentary screening followed by an interactive panel exchange with experts from the financial industry and media. We would like to encourage as many students as possible to attend. Besides the prizes and financial incentive (yes, real money!) that will be given to attendees, this is an opportunity to come out to learn and discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time. It is rare when the priorities for GW students, the administration and campus media align to highlight such a relevant issue. We believe the “Your Life, Your Money” event is one of these occasions.

For more information about the “Your Life, Your Money” event and for FREE registration, please visit

Charles Basden is the coordinator of SASS Strategic Initiatives and a master of public administration candidate. Matthew Cohen is also a coordinator of SASS Strategic Initiatives and a master of business administration candidate.

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