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Self Reflection

Financial Wellness Socioeconomic and Class Issues in Higher Education
September 15, 2015 Jabari Bodrick

My parents have always had a vested interest in my education. They checked my homework every day in elementary school, enrolled me in summer enrichment programs to help me retain the knowledge I acquired during the previous school year, and encouraged/forced me to read more than the sports section of the newspaper. In truth, I did not always appreciate the attention my parents devoted to my education. Like most little boys growing up in the nineteen-nineties, I was more interetested in watching professional wrestling and playing video games than I was in scholarly exploration and reading for pleasure. Two recent interactions have led me to reflect on my educational and class privilege: a visit to the local library and an e-mail I received from the University of Georgia's Bursar's Office Divison. 

I toured the main branch of the Richland County Public Library in downtown Columbia, South Carolina a few weeks ago. The leadership of the Richland County Public Library system recently made the collective decision to eliminate late fees, in part because late fees were keeping quite a few library card holders from checking out books. The library's leadership found that many library card holders from low socioeconomic backgrounds did not always have the reliable transportation needed to return items to a library in a timely manner. In an effort to avoid late fees, many of those same people elected to avoid checking out items altogether. I commend the Richland County Public Library System's leaders for identifying late fees as a financial barrier to access and implementing a policy to eliminate that barrier.

In addition to being the Assistant Director for Service-Learning and Engagement at the University of South Carolina, I am also a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Georgia. In mid-July, the University of Georgia's Bursar's Office Division notified me via e-mail that UGA is offering a payment plan for tuition and mandatory fees. The plan is designed to ease the financial burden of attending UGA by giving students the opportunity to defer payment for up to 50% of tuition and mandatory fee charges. I am not sure how many colleges and universities offer similar paymen tplans, but I am glad these plans are in existence. The price of attending an insitution of higher education continues to rise and many students need all the assistance they can get to remain enrolled. These payment plans are a solid stopgag solution as our elected officials and insitutional leaders decide the best way or ways to reduce and control the cost of attending college.

There are times when I get so focused on finding a panacea for student financial burdens that I neglect the seemingly little things that can be done in the interim. Eliminating late fees and implementing payment plans for tuition and fees may seem like minor policy changes, but those actions can make a world of difference in our students' lives.

    Jabari Bodrick is the Assistant Director for Service-Learning and Engagement at the University of South Carolina. He enjoys three-day weekends, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and the musical stylings of Eddie Hazel.