Building bright financial futures

All In for K-State

K-State is advancing student success through financial wellness.

Impulse buys. Bigger than necessary student loans. A monthly budget … what’s that?

Many of us made these financial mistakes when we were in college. Wouldn’t it have been nice if someone had taught us how to avoid these pitfalls?

Kansas State University is doing just that. Organized by the associate vice president of student well-being, groups around campus are offering financial well-being classes, workshops and counseling to prepare students for positive financial futures.

The 2023 All In for K-State raised funds to bring financial education to all new students, equipping them with the knowledge they need to make smart decisions and relieve some stress.

It starts with free financial well-being courses offered to all incoming students and adding more peer counselors to extend Powercat Financial’s reach. “I think it’s important to catch students even when they’re in their toddler years with financial education so they can build those skills for a lifetime,” said Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial. “As we bring students onto our campus, it’s really important for us to not only make sure they are successful in their academic pursuits but also throughout their lifetime.”

Powercat Financial — a national leader

Powercat Financial is K-State’s nationally recognized financial education program. Peer financial counselors are trained to work one-on-one with students to help them create a long-term college financial plan to help minimize student loan borrowing. Peer counselors work with students on nearly all things financial — budgeting, credit, student loans, salary negotiations, understanding benefits packages — whatever that individual needs help with.

The peer-to-peer model is a win-win for both the counselor and the client. Counselors gain valuable experience working with people to solve their financial problems. And student clients receive useful financial advice that can help them out of a jam or lead them to make beneficial decisions now and later in life. “The opportunity to expand our services is going to have a ripple effect for every individual who receives financial training,” Jodi said. “This information will help them, not only while they’re at K-State, but for the rest of their life. They can gain important financial skills that will benefit them as an individual and also their families, their relationships, their employers and their communities.”

Preventing dropouts

One of the top reasons students drop out of college is finances.

“Some start to feel as if college is too expensive,” said Greg Eiselein, professor of English and director of K-State First, the university’s first-year student program. “They see their tuition bill and panic a little, but they don’t always have the full picture.”

Studies show that people with college degrees earn more, have better job security and satisfaction, have better job-related benefits such as health care and retirement funds, and contribute more to their community.

But the cost of getting a degree can still prove stressful.

“Students who are stressed or anxious about money aren’t going to be as psychologically well as they need to be successful in college,” Greg said. “Helping students understand their finances may remove some of that stress, letting them focus on their studies and get their degree. Then they can go out and spend the rest of their lives being successful at whatever it is they have decided to do.”

He says that one key aspect of improving your financial well-being is figuring out what is important to you, which can help students evaluate and decide on a major.

“If you understand how money works, you’ll understand what options you have,” Greg explained. “You’ll be able to make decisions that are in line with your values and your passions — rather than out of sheer terror about having enough money.”

Through the financial futures initiative, K-State students will learn valuable skills that will help them while a student and long after graduation.

“We have the potential to change the average net worth of our future graduates. What a gift!,” said Kathleen Hatch, Morrison Family associate vice president for student well-being. “So if you want to make a difference, this is your chance.”

The vision

All In for K-State 2023 funds support these efforts:

  • Provide free personal financial planning courses to all incoming students
  • House student financial specialists in residence halls, Greek housing and in campus organizations so students in need won’t fall through the cracks
  • Expand Powercat Financial to help more students develop their personal financial plans

Campus partners include:

  • College of Health and Human Sciences/Department of Personal Financial Planning
  • K-State First
  • Powercat Financial
  • Housing and Dining Services
  • Student Life
  • Student Success
  • College of Business/Department of Finance

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