Mountain View Voice

News - December 13, 2013

College-bound students learn life lessons

Program teaches management skills to high school juniors

by Nick Veronin

Learning to manage money is one of the most important skills anyone can learn. But for first-generation college students working to earn an undergraduate degree, it's all the more vital — as the ability to budget can make the difference between success and failure.

That's why Candace Lublin is so excited about a new program that teaches money management skills to local high school juniors on track to become the first in their families to attend a four-year college. A board member and grant writer for the Mountain View Los Altos Community Scholars, Lublin said the new class — offered during the school day and in partnership with FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.) — is giving students access to skills they may have never even thought about before.

"Many of these students have not had the opportunity to manage income," Lublin said, and many come from low-income families.

The course in money management is part of a larger program aimed at helping students prepare for college. It is taught by mentors from the MVLA Community Scholars, who come to AVID classes at both Mountain View and Los Altos high schools on a regular basis. AVID is the high school district's program focused on preparing first-generation college students for the challenges they will face in four-year schools.

The Community Scholars mentors discuss money-related topics with the students, such as how to open a bank account, the difference between checking and savings, banks versus credit unions, the positives and negatives of credit cards, what it means to take out a loan and how to pay for a car.

"These will be critical issues they will be faced with as they enter their college career," Lublin said.

The mentors also help guide the students through a curriculum called "Money Smart," which was designed by the FDIC.

In addition, students who qualify are given the chance to benefit from an earnings-matching program from San Jose-based non-profit Opportunity Fund. Through the program, students may have the income they earn at a summer job tripled in matched funds. Lublin said students can max out at $2,000 of earned income, meaning that they may reap a total of $6,000 dollars.

The money they earn, along with the Opportunity Fund matching funds, is then placed in an account that Opportunity Fund helps the students manage. The students must use the money only for college-related expenses.

"We have found this to be enormously useful to the students," Lublin said of the Community Scholars mentors and the Opportunity Fund matching program. By reaching out to the junior class students and getting them thinking about their college careers and what it is going to take to reach them, Lublin said she hopes more students will find success in higher education and beyond.

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