Free course offers financial lessons and scholarships

Justin Hall on December 4, 2018. (Archive photo by Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

Financial struggles are the number one reason freshmen drop out of college, Blake Gray, professor of practice of personal financial planning, said. 

A new financial well-being course this semester, PFP 300, taught by Gray, aims to guide students through financial challenges and teach them about managing financial resources.  

“The zero credit classes are designed to help students understand some of the critical decisions they’ll be making throughout their undergraduate degree and graduate degrees,” Gray said.

Director of Powercat Financial, Jodi Kaus, said Powercat Financial awards scholarships to students who take the course. The first 250 students to sign up for the class get a $50 scholarship, and the first 250 to complete the class recieve $50.

“It does get added to your student account,” Kaus said. “And if you had a balance, it could pay that down for you, or it may help you reduce a loan.” 

Gray said even though the first round of PFP classes already started, there are only 101 students registered, so scholarships can still be awarded.

According to the Powercat Financial webpage, there are two more classes students can sign up for this fall. Course #17408 is an online asynchronous class from Oct. 24 to Nov. 23 and course #17426 is an in-person class from Oct. 25 to Nov. 10. Kaus said students can enroll in PFP 300 through KSIS like any other class, and it’s free.

Kaus said the in-person class is twice a week for three weeks, plus one session in the Powercat Financial Office, totalling about seven hours of commitment. The online asynchronous class is five weeks long and students can work through it at their own pace, Kaus said. 

The in-person class option offers unique benefits, Gray said. 

“You get to do more workshopping,” Gray said. “We can answer questions and work through specific questions they might have in that class.”

Makenna Eilert, graduate student in community planning, said she is currently taking PFP 300 online.

“Usually my day is pretty busy,” Eilert said. “So it was kind of easier just to do asynchronous.”

Eilert said she enjoyed learning about credit scores.

“Actually breaking it down into the different brackets of how you get a credit score was kind of interesting because I’d never really sat down and thought through that information before,” Eilert said.

Gray said he enjoys teaching students about money disorders.

“We did a presentation about money disorders, and money beliefs — kind of deep psychological money discussions, which are really uncommon,” Gray said. 

Gray said that people in everyday life rarely talk about money, so discussing it in the context of family and how their view of money has been shaped by different things opens students’ eyes. 

“I think students sometimes are surprised about how engaging these topics are because they’re so real and applicable,” Gray said.  

Gray said he wants students to consider taking this class to further aid their financial future.

“Don’t be afraid of engaging with a topic which can be challenging,” Gray said. “You can become a capable, effective person when it comes to your money and this is how you start that process.”