College students dealing with more than the 'Freshman 15' - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

College students dealing with more than the 'Freshman 15'

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CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) -

Have you ever heard about the freshman 15? Maybe so, but what about the freshman $15,000?

Worrying about what the peanut butter and ramen noodles will do to your waistline is enough to deal with, but the extra red in the bank account could lead to years if not decades of headaches.

"It's definitely a lot different than living at home," said Carly Crabtree-SEMO Freshman.

Freedom might be necessary, but can certainly be potentially dangerous for college freshmen. 

"When I first got to SEMO I had money saved up, was easy to say let's go out to eat, and go to the store," said Crabtree. "Then the money ran out."

Kendra Skinner works with students at Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau.

One of the first things she notices is how quickly some students blow through their meal plans.

"They say what do I do now, because they don't have any extra flex dollars," said Kendra Skinner-Associate Director, Student and Staff Development. 

Financial planners say freshmen are making several mistakes.

Here are five big ones experts say college students should keep in mind.

1. Don't go crazy with the credit cards

2. Don't overspend on entertainment

3. Don't neglect your checkbook

4. Avoid using "extra" student loan money to goof off

5. Don't go to a college you can't afford

SEMO students may not close out the year 15 grand in the hole, but staff can certainly see how that could happen.

"My staff will try to do some programs to help them with budgets, and managing money if they need it," said Skinner. 

Senior Halie Dunn says she never fell into the debt trap.

"I knew I was going to have to pay for myself, and no one was going to do it for me," said Halie Dunn. "That was a big motivation to save my money."

Some freshmen say they're not even signing up for credit cards to avoid that temptation.

"I'll wait until after college," said Sean Brown. "That's not for me." 

Gone are the days of credit card companies camping out on campuses luring students in with the promise of a free t-shirt or beach towel.

Southeast officials say students still get plenty of offers though by mail that staff say they encourage students to simply pitch.

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