University Park, IL,
13:48 PM

A Dose of Reality During Money Smart Week

During Money Smart Week at Governors State University (GSU), Financial Aid Advisor Lorie Webster took her lessons back to school.

Webster worked with junior high school students to demystify the dollar with “The Reality Store’’, an annual event that allows participants to learn practical lessons after having been assigned a level of education, and profession. Students choose their own lifestyle from three options—frugal, moderate, or elaborate.

Tables set up at O.W. Huth Middle School, where Webster's children attended,  represented pay stations for taxes, student loans, personal items, food, and utilities.

GSU students Lester Van Moody, Nechawn Johnson, and Kristiana Russell were on hand to help Webster and steer the young people through “life”.

The exercise made Communications major Johnson feel nostalgic.

“This would have been really beneficial when I was in school. It kind of helps you know what to expect.”

Johnson worked with students at a table labeled “checking account,’’ where they paid taxes.

First stop on the circuit was the station supervised by Russell and Moody who helped students determine what they owed in taxes.

Marketing major Russell said the new understanding of responsibility was all over their naive faces at her station. “They realize being grown isn’t what they thought it would be,” Russell said. “Especially when they get to the last table and they only have $200 left,’’ quipped Johnson.

Webster, a GSU Counseling student, first ran the Reality Store in 2016 as part of a class project.

The student response was so overwhelming that she’s returned every year.

“I love the excitement they express, and how they now understand what it’s like to be an adult like their parents, who after they pay all their bills, don’t have any money left.”

The exercise is a good way to get future Jaguars focused on their future, as well, Webster said.

“Money Smart Week  is our outreach to the community to help students think about money and how to pay for college.”