Taxes, retirement, debt: GW preps students for financial future

Still letting your parents take care of your taxes? The Center for Student Engagement wants that to change.

Starting next fall, students will be able to attend weekly seminars called “Big Adult Topics” and learn not only how to file taxes, but also how to pay off student debt and start saving for retirement.

“The challenge we have is that seniors don’t want to think about this until they have to think about it,” CSE director Tim Miller said. “We have to get across to them [that] you need to know this before you think you need to know it.”

The student life office has focused on post-college skills since it was created in 2011, but Miller said too many of the events were busts, failing to attract students.

These sessions, however, will be taught by adults who “can teach people real-life skills, instead of a financial planner who’s going to be scary about it,” Miller said. He hopes to bring in speakers who graduated from GW and have since figured out the real world, as well as employees from around campus. The first event kicked off Jan. 30, and focused on planning for retirement.

It was led by director of GW Housing Programs Seth Weinshel and another CSE leader Andrew Goretsky, both of whom Miller called “two of the most frugal, future-planning people I know.” The duo outlined different combinations to fund retirement, like opening an Individual Retirement Account and pensions.

Miller said if students theoretically waited to start saving for retirement at 35, instead of starting at 25, they would end up with $500,000 in their personal retirement accounts instead of $1 million.

The sessions will highlight tips that Miller said most people don’t know, like how to make an extra $3,600 a year by investing, which would also put students in a lower tax bracket.

Matthew Grossman, a senior mechanical engineering major, said he is intrigued by the plan.

“I’ve never had to do taxes, so something to teach me how to do that would be pretty nice,” Grossman said, adding he had not heard of the programs before.

But senior Amita Achutuni said she didn’t know if she would want to go. Achutuni said she already knows how to file taxes, but added that she would be interested in testing out the program.

“I think if it became more of a thing that they did for the entire senior class and it was promoted towards that, then I’d probably go,” Achutuni, a political science major and business administration minor, said.

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