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K-State Today

December 11, 2013

U.S. education secretary spotlights Powercat Financial Counseling as a program to emulate

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spotlighted Kansas State University’s Powercat Financial Counseling as a financial literacy program to emulate during his address Dec. 4 to more than 6,000 financial aid professionals attending the 2013 Federal Student Aid Training Conference at the Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas.

Powercat Financial Counseling is directed by Jodi Kaus, who spoke on a panel at the conference on “How Schools Educate Their Students About Financial Literacy.”

Duncan outlined the Obama administration's efforts to address rising college costs and make college more affordable for American families, including the administration's proposal to create a college ratings system that would better inform students and encourage institutions to improve. He indicated the president proposed an ambitious plan for transforming financial aid in America.

“In short, we envision a world with a much higher level of financial literacy about what it takes to complete college and the benefits and restrictions of student aid," Duncan said. "Improving financial literacy should be an institutional goal, driven in significant measure by financial aid administrators, in partnership with other leaders in higher education.”

With greater transparency and increased financial literacy as key components of Obama’s plan, Duncan indicated innovative financial aid leaders were already showing the way to improving financial literacy, increasing transparency, boosting retention and college completion, and strengthening loan counseling. He indicated best ideas should be taken to scale.

“I would like to see more institutions emulating financial literacy programs like Kansas State’s Powercat Financial Counseling program and Ohio State’s Scarlet and Gray Financial Program," Duncan said. "At Kansas State, the goal is for students to meet with Powercat Financial Counseling every semester to create and review their college financial plan, just as they would meet with an academic advisor to work on their academic plan. At both Kansas State and Ohio State, these programs rely in part on peer educators, students from financial-related majors who spend a semester training to advise students and who serve as financial coaches. At a meeting with a group of college students just last week, I heard how much they appreciated peer mentoring and support programs.”

Duncan further highlighted the efforts of Powercat Financial Counseling by indicating that since Kansas State began its program in August 2009, more than 1,200 students have received individual financial counseling, nearly 16,000 students and parents have received group financial education, and 60 students have served as peer financial educators

"That is campuswide change, not a case-by-case change,” Duncan said.

Complete text can be found online. 

You may learn more about Kansas State’s Powercat Financial Counseling program at www.k-state.edu/pfc.