Even before the coronavirus pandemic, which forced tens of millions to seek unemployment compensation benefits, financial experts said the nation’s student loan balance was projected to swell to $2 trillion by 2022, with approximately 25 percent of borrowers already behind on payments.
One local company is seeking to combat the student loan debt crisis by teaching high school students about financial literacy and showing them tactics to win scholarships.
After winning a $30,000 student loan pay down in 2017, Kiara Jones says she understands what it means to alleviate such a financial burden.
She founded Free Money Meister, where she says she uses her talents and strategies for student loan minimization. With Free Money Meister, the Notre Dame of Maryland University and University of Maryland Baltimore County alum has set her sights on being a pivotal player in diminishing the student loan debt crisis in an effort to combat the country’s wealth gap.The company plans to host several workshops to help aspiring college students become more knowledgeable about loans and debt.
“In our workshops, we have exercises where the students determine how much college will cost, review scholarship amounts and scholarship databases, and then assess the impacts to their proposed financial aid packages,” Jones said. “By completing these exercises and providing the students with this knowledge before they even apply to college, they are more likely to pursue scholarships, complete the FASFA more strategically and earlier to receive more federal aid, minimize financial aid package fees that do not apply to them, and more,” she declared. “All of which will result in these students lowering their proposed student loan debt and combatting the national average.”
Jones promises that the company would remain in contact with the students to keep metrics on their progress. She says combatting the national average is one way to fight the overall student loan debt crisis.
“We currently provide personal consultations for individuals that already have student loan debt and individuals that want us to find the scholarships and create a strategic plan for them,” Jones said. “We prefer to highlight our workshops instead of the consultations because at the moment we are in the process of revamping the consultations to be more technology-based, but these appointments directly combat the crisis by minimizing the amount of student loan debt in America one person at a time. “We hope to start automating these processes even further to reach larger audiences and have a larger impact.”
The first workshop on Saturday, October 10, 2020 will benefit students applying for early admissions.The workshops are open to all high school grade levels, and students are encouraged to attend as early as 9th grade, according to Jones, who noted that the workshops are both fun and interactive.
“At our workshops, we use demographics related to student loans to call out that Black Americans traditionally take out more student loans,” Jones exclaimed. “We also discuss an article that states that the ‘median wealth of Black Americans will fall to zero by 2053. We reflect on this item during the workshops when talking about that scholarship money can be used to not only minimize debt but to get refund checks to then save and invest.
“Even the act of minimizing student loan debt will put the average Black person in a better position to minimize the wealth diversity gap. We collaborate with local non-profits and banks to do community outreach to spread this information in underprivileged communities and communities with a high minority population.”
For more information about Free Money Meister or register for the workshops, visit: www.freemoneymeister.com.