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Students win first prize with millennial retirement recommendations

A photo of the student group that won the iOME challenge.

It’s never too early for mil­len­nials to start thinking about retire­ment. One group of North­eastern stu­dents tackled this issue recently and took home first place in a com­pe­ti­tion focused on how pre­pared states and pol­i­cy­makers are for when the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion enters its golden years.

The sixth annual iOme Chal­lenge tasked stu­dent groups with con­structing a policy advi­sory paper–in which they ranked states’ pre­pared­ness for when the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion starts to retire in 2040–for the National Gov­er­nors Association.

The North­eastern stu­dents explained in their paper that because the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion will face its own unique retire­ment chal­lenges com­pared to past gen­er­a­tions, there should be dynamic solu­tions to meet those needs.

The two most impor­tant cri­teria in our ranking system were stu­dent loan debt and finan­cial lit­eracy,” explained Aaron Kanzer, SSH’16, the stu­dent group’s leader. “It’s hard to write these poli­cies because I can’t com­pare how I’m going to save for retire­ment to how my par­ents did.”

In addi­tion to a $5,000 cash prize, the stu­dents will travel to Wash­ington, D.C., later this month to meet with the Sec­re­tary of Labor and White House offi­cials from the National Eco­nomic Council to con­tinue dis­cus­sions on mil­len­nial retire­ment preparedness.

The stu­dents’ rec­om­mended solu­tions included dif­ferent loan rates for stu­dents depending on their major, alter­ations to 401K hard­ship with­drawal poli­cies, and imple­men­ta­tion of finan­cial lit­eracy cur­ricu­lums in schools.

“I think my goal and the rest of the team’s goal is not just to shake hands with these people. It’s to say, ‘We’re mil­len­nials, we’re knee-​​deep in stu­dent debt, a lot of us don’t know what an IRA is, what are you going to do about it?’”

The North­eastern stu­dents, some of whom are part of the Eco­nomics Society, empha­sized seven crit­ical issues in their policy rec­om­men­da­tion: stu­dent loan debt, hard­ship with­drawals, finan­cial lit­eracy, per­sonal sav­ings rate, cur­tailing debt con­sump­tion, health­care, and social security.

This was the first time a group of North­eastern stu­dents entered the com­pe­ti­tion. They worked on their sub­mis­sion for most of the spring semester and learned last month they had won.

iOme is an orga­ni­za­tion that works to raise aware­ness about finan­cial secu­rity in retire­ment and its impact on the future social and eco­nomic well being of society.

Par­tic­i­pating groups also cre­ated a short video to accom­pany their paper. The North­eastern stu­dents did a finan­cial and retire­ment pre­pared­ness ver­sion of Robin Williams and Matt Damon’s iconic Boston Public Garden scene from the movie Good Will Hunting.



“I think my goal and the rest of the team’s goal is not just to shake hands with these people,” Kanzer said of the upcoming visit to Wash­ington. “It’s to say, ‘We’re mil­len­nials, we’re knee-​​deep in stu­dent debt, a lot of us don’t know what an IRA is, what are you going to do about it?’”

Published On: June 17, 2015 | Tags: ,
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