The national honors are adding up for Kansas State University's Powercat Financial Counseling, a free financial counseling and education program for students.
The service, which opened in fall 2009, has received the 2011 Promising Practices Award from Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Knowledge Community, which is part of NASPA, an organization for student affairs administrators in higher education.
The award recognizes programs and services that contribute to collaboration or integration of student and academic affairs in a college or university setting. Powercat Financial Counseling is one of three recipients of the honor, which will be presented at the NASPA annual conference, March 12-16, in Philadelphia, Pa. With more than 11,000 members at 1,400 campuses, and representing 29 countries, NASPA is the foremost professional association for student affairs administrators, faculty and graduate and undergraduate students.
It's the second national award for Powercat Financial Counseling, which was named a 2009 Innovative Educator by Visa's Practical Money Skills program.
Jodi Kaus, director, says K-State students deserve the credit for the service's success. It was created at the request of students as a way to enhance their financial literacy. The program also provides professional counseling experience for students studying personal finance at K-State, who volunteer as peer counselors.
"While the academic units and administration have been super supportive in the implementation of the program, it was the students who said they wanted and needed it rather than the other way around," Kaus said. "It's very much a student-driven program that strives to be innovative in everything we do. We're bridging academic learning with experiential learning for students studying personal finance, and at the same time helping our student body be successful at money management."
Besides one-on-one peer counseling, Powercat Financial Counseling offers free workshops on topics like budgeting, understanding credit, identity theft, investing and more to classes, student organizations and living groups. The peer counselors also write weekly financial tips on the K-State Student Governing Association blog, https://blogs.k-state.edu/sga/, and have walk-in hours from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesdays during the semester. The service is located in the K-State Student Union's office of student activities and services.
"We've seen a significant increase in the use of both individual financial counseling services and requests for financial workshop presentations in just the short time we've been open. We're happy with the growth of both programs," Kaus said.
K-State distance education students will soon get to take advantage of Powercat Financial Counseling as well, Kaus said. "In the coming weeks we'll be offering online financial counseling via Skype and over the phone. I'm not aware of any other university programs that offer this service," she said.
The success of Powercat Financial Counseling is drawing interest from other universities, including in Kansas. Kaus said the University of Kansas consulted with K-State prior to launching KU's new financial counseling program in fall 2010.
More information on Powercat Financial Counseling is available at http://www.k-state.edu/pfc.