College is not getting cheaper. Associated costs for public universities increased by 40 percent from 2001 to 2012, according to the National Center for Educational Statistics. This jump has inevitably led to more students requiring financial aid.
Powercat Financial Counseling was set up as a one-on-one counseling service at K-State in 2010 to help students make sense of their finances and find ways to plan for the future. Five years later, this service has provided free financial counseling to more than 1,800 students.
In celebration of its fifth anniversary, PFC held a celebration Wednesday afternoon in the courtyard of the K-State Student Union. Reagan Kays, student body president and senior in agribusiness, was on hand for the event.
“We use it (PFC) a lot as an example of the perfect thing that student government can get on board, give the reins to somebody else to take on and take it to the finish line,” Kays said.
Kays introduced Bob Harris, assistant vice president of adviser training and education for Waddell and Reed Financial Services, to the crowd. Harris, a K-State graduate, works with PFC leaders to help steer the program.
“It’s hard to believe that Powercat Financial Counseling is already celebrating five years of service to this community,” Harris said. “It seems like yesterday that we were having conversations around our home office about how exciting it would be to help fund this and help be a part of it.”
“I know that a number of your peers in the industry that run financial programs across the country are now discussing ways they can emulate this program and hold it up as a model.” – Bob Harris
Harris said part of the program’s success comes from the people involved in running and maintaining the service.
“It’s a really a special and unique program, which you’ve done an excellent job of growing and creating,” he said to the audience.
Harris also said the program is well-regarded in the conversations he’s had with officials at other universities.
“I’m proud to report back to you that this program has a solid reputation in a lot of circles around the country,” Harris said to the crowd, “And that’s both professionally and academically. I know that a number of your peers in the industry that run financial programs across the country are now discussing ways they can emulate this program and hold it up as a model.”
Pat Bosco, vice president for student life and dean of students, addressed the university’s need for the financial counseling service.
“This (celebration) is easy,” Bosco said. “What was hard was this incredible challenge for our K-State family. Today, 25 percent of our students are Pell (Grant) eligible. Our student body are eligible for more financial aid than any other school in the state.”
Since 1983, the average price of tuition has jumped 645 percent, according to a 2013 report by JP Morgan Funds. Bosco said the problem of student loan debts was a factor in setting the program up five years ago.
“College debt is on everyone’s mind,” he said. “It’s the reason why students drop out or visit our university counseling center. When we talk about financial literacy, it’s not Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles; it’s right here in Manhattan, Kansas.”