Freshmen educated on financial aid

A new financial aid program at Eastern New Mexico University is targeting financial literacy for freshmen, and is one of a few changes on the first day of instruction for the college's fall semester.

Alisa Boswell: Portales News-Tribune

Josh Cunningham, left, a junior who just transferred to Eastern New Mexico University this semester from Golden West College in Huntington, Calif., talks to the financial aid department secretary Terri Campbell on Tuesday afternoon about his baseball scholarship. Tuesday marked the start of ENMU's fall semester and a new financial aid push called Peanuts to Prosperity.

Students swarmed across campus Tuesday for their first day of school as ENMU faculty and staff rushed around offices and classrooms in preparation for their arrival.

Financial aid was one of the busier departments Tuesday afternoon, with work that included implementation of Peanuts to Prosperity. The program helps educate students on how to be frugal and responsible during college years so they're less burdened with debt when they start post-college life.

"What we want to stress to college students right now is to live within their means and budget and borrow as few loans as possible right now," said financial aid specialist Betty Dever.

Dever said the program will be taught in Freshman Seminar classes this semester, and emphasizes how students can look for scholarship opportunities with ENMU to lessen the amount of loans they have to take out, along with cutting spending and saving money.

"We want to emphasize, don't borrow more than you need and borrow responsibly, because they need to remember they do have to pay those loans back," Dever said.

Dever said the program teaches students how to find scholarship opportunities on the ENMU website and it offers tips on how they can live more frugally with their financial resources.

Such tips include making a plan, buying used materials, working part time, buying generic brands and more.

"If you live frugally now, you can live prosperously later," she said, quoting the program's theme. "I just think it will make students more aware of what they spend and how they spend it."

ENMU President Steven Gamble said Tuesday he attended Dawg Days events over the weekend and had spent his first day of school having lunch and visiting with new freshmen and faculty.

"I think occasionally it scares them," Gamble said of sitting down to lunch with freshmen students. "But they seem to lighten up early in the conversation."

Gamble said another change to look forward to this school year is the opening of the new freshmen dorm, Guadalupe Hall, which will be complete this fall. Freshmen should be moving into the building in January.

"I talked to several of them (freshman) and they said they can hardly wait," he said. "We always put the needs of the students first and we plan to continue that philosophy throughout this year."

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