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Students win first prize with millennial retirement recommendations

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.

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?’”

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