Beginning as a student idea, Powercat Financial Counseling has grown into an essential component of learning at Kansas State University.
The program, one of the first of its kind at a university, provides free financial counseling on a variety of subjects, including creating a personal budget, determining how much in student loans to take out, solving credit issues and comparing benefit packages for job offers. Serving a dual purpose, Powercat Financial Counseling also trains and employs students as peer financial counselors who work directly with student clients.
“We are training students who want to do this professionally, giving them hands-on experiences and letting them put the skills that they are learning in the classroom into real practice,” Kaus said.
Powercat Financial’s four years of start-up funding from the Student Governing Association is set to expire at the end of 2013. But the service has been so successful that the university’s central administration has decided to include funding for it in the 2014 university budget.
“Paying for college isn’t just about receiving enough financial assistance,” said Larry Moeder, assistant vice president for student life and director of admissions and student financial assistance. “It’s also about acquiring the skills to effectively manage and budget that assistance. While the office of student financial assistance can provide funding for a student’s K-State education, Powercat Financial Counseling can provide students with the knowledge needed to be financially successful at K-State and later in life.”
To reflect the change, administration of the program will be run through the office of student financial assistance and Jodi Kaus, program director, will receive the additional title of associate director of student financial assistance.
“Student loan debt now surpasses credit card debt,” Kaus said. “People are asking what we are going to do to fix that, and K-State is being proactive by offering this service to help students and provide them with information to deal with financial issues. We are so proud that K-State continues to lead the way with its strong commitment to student financial wellness.”
In addition to the university’s support, private donations contribute to the success of Powercat Financial Counseling.
“The support from the university’s administration ensures that Powercat Financial Counseling will continue to provide financial counseling to students, but it will only cover basic office essentials,” Kaus said. “Our vision for growth is going to continue to require additional funding from private sources.”
Powercat Financial Counseling received the 2011 Promising Practices Award from Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community — a part of the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, an organization for student affairs administrators in higher education. It also was named an Innovative Educator in 2009 by Visa’s Practical Money Skills program.