College Students Chosen to Shed Debt, Become Financially Fit

Higher One and NYSE Euronext Announce Finalists in their "Money Makeover" Contest

Oct 19, 2010, 13:07 ET from Higher One Holdings, Inc.

NEW HAVEN, Conn., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- Five college students facing financial challenges -- ranging from traditional college-age students in their 20s looking to pay off student loans to middle aged adults pursuing their degrees while trying to reduce family debt -- have been selected by Higher One and the NYSE Euronext as finalists in their Money Makeover contest.  These students were selected for their commitment to take constructive and meaningful steps toward financial empowerment.

Money Makeover provides college students across the country with important money management skills.  The five finalists were selected based on video submissions in which they effectively communicated a need for a fiscal intervention and desire to achieve their financial goals. Each of the finalists will chronicle their progress through weekly blog updates on Higher One's Game Time  site, where they also can access tips by Higher One's financial literacy expert and consumer advocacy manager, Mary Johnson and NYSE Money Sense.  

"Each of our five finalists has a compelling story to tell -- and real financial goals to achieve," said Ms. Johnson. "With such a wide range of student experiences represented in the contest, all of the finalists' stories represent key challenges facing students across the country.  It is our hope that the Money Makeover contest will not only help the five finalists gain the skills they need to reach their goals, but that it will teach students across the country how to better control their debt, follow a budget and effectively manage their money."

The finalists are:

  • Ta-Tanisha Atkins (Cameron University, Oklahoma)

A college-age student from an underprivileged family, Ta-Tanisha is among the first in her family to go to college. In order to fulfill her lifelong dream of becoming an accountant, she must travel to a college where this course of study was offered. This meant buying a used car, which eventually fell apart, leading to exorbitant repair expenses. Buying a new car meant taking on even more sending her deeper into debt and having her credit score plummet. She is looking for help to pay down credit card bills and car loans in order to be debt-free, complete college and eventually buy a house.

  • David Finch (Kansas Community College, Kansas)

A student in his mid-20s, David fell into enormous debt by opening up five credit cards in five years. He has decided that he doesn't want debt to follow him for the rest of his life, and is already taking steps to get his personal finances back on track, including taking a personal finance class. His plan is to pay 10% of his income back to his savings and get out of the terrible debt that is affecting both his ability to get unsubsidized student loans and be able to live.

  • Anita Stoudmire (Liberty University, Virginia)

A non-traditional graduate student pursing an advanced degree in counseling at an online university, Anita incurred several thousand dollars in debt while closing on her home. She is looking to pay off all her debt by the end of 2010 and is determined to stick to a budget, even getting a part time job if necessary, in order to pay her debts and raise her credit score.

  • Vickie Houston (Baker College, Michigan)

Vickie is a student in her mid-40s who made a significant investment in herself by getting two degrees.  She is determined not to leave debt for her children and to set an example for those who have similarly taken on debt for the worthy cause of higher education. Her plan is to reduce her debt by 75% this year, even if it means selling her assets.

  • Steven Hayes (University of Houston, Texas) 

A student in his late 30s, Steven knows what it will take to get out of debt, and will start by eliminating travel and entertainment expenses from his life -- the very things that got him into debt in the first place. He not only wants to get out of debt by the end of the year, but wants this contest to be a catalyst for winning financial independence.

"We are excited to follow these five finalists through their 'Money Makeover' and help arm them with the skills to become financially fit," said David Cautin, Chief Digital Officer of NYSE Euronext.  "The need for financial literacy education on college campuses is increasingly apparent. Through our partnership with Higher One, we hope that the contest will serve as a way to bring a greater awareness of this issue to the higher education community."

The Money Makeover contest is a joint effort between Higher One and NYSE Money Sense, the online financial resource of NYSE Euronext, to help college students learn the essentials of money management and to promote the importance of financial literacy. Students across the country can follow the journey of the five finalists through their blogs and vote for the individual they believe has made the most progress.  The grand prize winner will be announced in November and will receive $2,000 to help gain financial independence, with each of the four runners-up receiving $500 to put towards their goal. 

For more information on the Money Makeover contest and to follow the contestants' journey to financial independence, visit .

About NYSE Money Sense

NYSE Euronext launched NYSE Money Sense, a credible resource for basic financial education to help people better understand and manage their personal finances, in April 2010. The interactive site includes: A five-lesson Course replete with Certification Test, answers to basic Financial FAQs, a guide to other financial resources throughout the web and a first-person blog by a young New Yorker trying to get her finances in order. A committee of six of the country's leading financial education experts helped develop the site. NYSE Money Sense helps to underscore NYSE Euronext's commitment to transparency, and the rebuilding of consumer confidence by helping consumers to become better informed on financial matters.  

About Higher One

Founded in 2000, Higher One (NYSE: ONE) is a leading company focused on helping college business offices manage operations and provide enhanced service to students. Through a full array of services from refunds, payments, electronic billing, payment plans and more, Higher One works closely with colleges and universities to ensure students receive Financial Aid refunds quickly, can pay tuition and bills online, make on-campus and community purchases, and learn the basics of financial management.

Higher One provides its services to more than 4.8 million students at distinguished public and private higher education institutions nationwide. More information about Higher One can be found at

Media Contacts:

Elissa D'Orazio




Richard Adamonis

NYSE Euronext


SOURCE Higher One Holdings, Inc.