Students finance tuition with stocks

Manni Balignasay

With the click of a button, some ISU students are making money by trading and investing stocks online.

While many students prefer online investing over brokers or investment services, Micheal Gardner, investment specialist for Firstar Bank, 405 Main St., said they are not treated differently than other investors.

“I give students the same respect as other investors,” Gardner said.

Jeff Gibbons, investment specialist for Piper Jaffray, 402 Main St., said $1,500 is considered a good amount to start investing with, but he said students should look at their individual financial situations before they begin.

“You want to make sure that you have enough cash reserves on-hand for emergencies. If you don’t, then you have to dip into your portfolio which will lose you money,” he said.

Other online trading companies, such as Ameritrade, E*Trade, and Datek also recommend starting with around $2,000, according to their Web sites.

Tim Vanhoutte, junior in management information systems, said he invested in the stock market after an internship with Ameritrade sparked his interest.

“I started with an initial investment of $10,000,” he said. “Last summer I had more than tripled my investment, but I have had rougher times lately.”

Gibbons said students should plan before they begin investing.

“[Students] should have money saved for three to six months before they start investing,” he said. “Investors should expect to have their money invested for at least a five-year time horizon. Any less and you are gambling.”

Gibbons said investing in mutual funds or a pool of stocks invested with a common theme can help reduce risks.

Jonathan Hicks, junior in finance and accounting, said he has his money invested in an AIM value fund, a type of mutual fund, through the financial services at Firstar Bank.

“I have $750 invested from saving during the summer,” he said. “I’m starting off a long-term investment for after college, basically something I can put my money into now to get a head start.”

Gibbons also said another way to reduce investment risk is by not putting everything into only one stock and to look for companies with a good investment portfolio. He said a good portfolio will have large and small companies, international companies and bonds. Gibbons also said students interested in long-term investment portfolios should expect 91 percent of its return to be based on allocation.