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Bright future: Students embrace education, finance event at UNLV

Updated May 20, 2024 - 7:16 pm

Sierra Dormer and Alex Stern were among students and career seekers at UNLV on Sunday giving serious consideration to starting out at a low-cost community college to save on tuition expenses at a four-year college.

Dormer, 18, was still waiting on news of a possible state Promise scholarship for qualified high school seniors to pay for up to three years of fees at a Nevada community college, in her case the College of Southern Nevada.

“I was also looking into the military to find different options of which military I should go into,” Dormer said. “And right now I’m going to look at the job searches.”

Stern, 19, is also thinking about going to CSN and so far is unsure what career she would like to pursue. “I’m just looking around seeing all the different options because there are so many of them.” Stern said.

The teens joined about 500 people who showed up at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas campus to attend the Bright Future: Education, Access and Financial Literacy Event, according to Barbara Blue, director of campus relations and visitor experience.

The four-hour event, held in the student union and nearby Flora Dungan Hall, featured sessions on applying for federal student loans, college admission, class registration, credit management, military education benefits and strategies for completing resumes and searching for jobs.

One of the sessions, hosted by Zack Goodwin, executive director of financial aid and scholarships for UNLV’s Institute for Financial Literacy and Wellness, reviewed the complicated topic of federal student loans, from needs-based subsidized loans to unsubsidized loans and PLUS loans, for which a student’s parent or parents sign for them and are responsible for paying them back.

A key requirement for obtaining U.S. government loans is for students to first complete the online free application for federal student aid, or FAFSA, which tells them the types of loans they qualify for or are eligible for, Goodwin said.

A loan for $5,500, to be paid off in a maximum of 10 years, might cost only about $50 to $60 a month, Goodwin said. But, she noted, that interest rates have risen, ranging at 6.53 percent for a subsidized loan up to 9.08 percent for a PLUS loan.

Most students and parents, Goodwin said, are concerned about “debt, either avoiding it or how to manage it, or the effects on their future.”

“We’re fortunate, I think, at UNLV, believe it or not, fewer than a quarter or our undergraduates even borrow,” Goodwin said. “I think it’s wonderful. We’re very lucky, and those that do, borrow about a third less than the national average.”

He said Nevada higher education institutions “have pretty low tuition to begin with and our aid programs are quite robust.”

Erich Gelover, 17, a film studies enthusiast about to graduate from Silverado High School in Las Vegas, said he attended Goodwin’s class on student loans to help him decide whether to attend a community college.

“I’m thinking about doing two years at (community) college and then two years here at UNLV” to save money, Gelover said.

Kass Moore, a career services employee at UNLV, oversaw sessions on resume building and the importance of students and job seekers to use the networking site LinkedIn, used by many recruiters to search for employment candidates.

Common mistakes people make in writing their resumes include being too general or vague or writing their resumes too long, Moore said.

“You need one to two pages, making it condensed and concise,” Moore said.

Contact Jeff Burbank at jburbank@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0382. Follow him @JeffBurbank2 on X.

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