Been there, learned that

Dylan Birkinsha

A first-generation student helps others learn the essentials of college finances

First-generation student and military veteran Dylan Birkinsha takes what he’s learned firsthand about college finances to help other students learn the ropes. As a peer financial counselor with Powercat Financial, he teaches fellow K-Staters about budgeting, credit, student loan repayment and transitioning to work.

Why did you want to become a peer financial counselor?

I’m a first-generation student, so I’ve had to learn the whole college experience thing on my own. Helping other students is a big driver behind my desire to become a peer financial counselor. As a counselor, I can make a big difference on campus, especially with K-State supporting financial literacy. We can be the first step in getting that done.

Why is financial literacy so important?

As a first-generation student, your parents don’t really know about preparing for college or student loans. I didn’t know how to prepare for college, so I ended up joining the military right out of high school. I decided to come to Kansas State after my time in boot camp and training for the military.

As a peer counselor, I’m able to give student loan counseling and explain how to build your credit through college. It’s a lot easier to catch students as freshmen to teach them these skills versus when they’re seniors about to graduate.

Why should a donor support Powercat Financial?

Having financial literacy when you’re young can affect multiple generations. You are less likely to make common financial mistakes that will affect your ability to buy a house, save for retirement, etc. You’ll know about starting a 529 account for your kids to go to college someday.

For donors, you’re not only helping students today, you’re helping generations beyond that student.

Does financial counseling help students’ overall well-being?

Oh, yes! We have research that proves it. On average, if a student comes in for a session and ranks their stress level at seven on a 10-point scale, we generally get them down to a four or five after just one meeting. Financial literacy is one of the biggest problems for students at K-State. Improving their financial literacy improves their grades and emotional well-being. It’s a very vital part of overall well-being.

Why is the peer-to-peer part of Powercat Financial important?

It helps relieve the stress of going to see somebody to talk about your finances. You know that since we are students too, we’ve likely gone through similar experiences. I think the student-to-student aspect is extremely important in what we do.

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zach hanood

Zach Hanood Senior Development Officer - Universitywide


tom curoe

Tom Curoe Development Officer - Universitywide