Three New York City college students shaved their own student debt this week when their public service video, “Repair Your Credit — Repair Your Life,” took top honors at the fourth annual Financial Awareness Video Festival sponsored by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
The festival challenges college and university students to create a compelling 30-second video that teaches their peers how to build and use credit wisely.
This year’s winners, Estela Melendez, Christian Guinanzaca and Byron Guinanzaca of LaGuardia Community College on Long Island, split the $2,500 first prize for their first-person account of a young man who set up his own payment plan to retire his credit card debt.
“Repair Your Credit — Repair Your Life” will be screened at select movie theaters throughout the city, distributed to schools, nonprofit groups and financial literacy organizations and posted on the New York Fed’s website.
More than 40 video entries were received this year from students in Connecticut, New York state and northern New Jersey. Once judges narrowed the field to 15, they were screened before a live audience that included hometown actor Ashley Springer (“Teeth,” “Dare”) and Jose Rodriguez, documentary programming associate with the Tribeca Film Institute, the folks behind that other New York film festival. This year, the panel was split on two finalists so New York Fed president and CEO William Dudley cast the deciding vote.
Kausar Hamdani, senior vice president of Regional and Community Outreach at the New York Fed, says early advice from peers about the real-life consequences of debt and credit can help young people avoid learning money lessons the hard way.
“From student loans to credit cards, college often is the first time students are exposed to credit — both the benefits and potential problems,” Hamdani said. “This competition aims to ensure students learn early about the do’s and don’ts of good credit usage.”
Applause to the New York Fed and the budding filmmakers who entered this year’s Financial Awareness Video Festival for using the visual medium to spread the word about smart credit to the next generation.
Because while “The Hangover” may be great entertainment, a money hangover is nothing to laugh about.