Kansas State University students can receive free in-person financial counseling, group presentations, online counseling, and personal finance courses and programs. The campus’ student money management center, Powercat Financial, is the hub for all of these opportunities. Director Jodi Kaus keeps students at the helm of their programming. The results are a multi-faceted initiative that has helped shape a campus culture of financial wellness at K-State.
Kaus says, “Our robust programming started thanks to some very forward-thinking student government leaders. Here at KSU, our student government truly does have a lot of autonomy. It was student-driven, and students were the ones saying they wanted it and were pushing for it.”
She reports they had more than 40 students apply to be peer financial counselors during their last hiring phase, a major indicator of the student interest in the subject. K-State features an excellent personal finance academic track which has helped shape the program, but the center’s peer counselors come from all over the campus.
“We have a really top-notch personal financial planning academic department. Student support and the academic opportunities really allowed this to happen. Our peer financial counselors are from all over the campus: agricultural business and agricultural economics, arts and science economics, and many from the business school,” Kaus explains.
CashCourse is one of the programs they feature on their website. They use online scavenger hunts on the website as a marketing tactic to get the word out to students.
Kaus says, “We are constantly marketing because there are always new students who need to know about these resources. We have also done online scavenger hunts where we had students find things on our website or on different financial tools such as CashCourse. If they complete this, they are entered into a drawing for a prize. This year we offered Yetis [a brand of drink thermos] as a prize, which was a big hit.”
When asked about why they feature CashCourse, Kaus emphasized content and functionality.
“We really appreciate the reporting aspect and that the content is designed and relevant for students. They are trying to figure out student loans and all these other big money topics. We also appreciate that there is no financial investment [required from schools] as we have to be resourceful in our spending,” Kaus says.
In addition to the many services offered to students, Powercat Financial also boasts several cross-campus partnerships that helps expand their reach. Kaus keeps the student in mind when considering these partnerships and encourages other schools to take a similar approach.
Kaus explains, “We partner with as many campus entities as possible. You have to think about what is on the students’ minds and then partner with that resource and show how it is valuable in that area. For instance, student athletes are receiving scholarships upfront and they need to know how to budget that type of disbursement. International students have very different needs as does a first-year compared to someone about to graduate. It all needs to be specialized.”
Listening to students and giving them autonomy in their programming has created a strong history of financial education at the K-State campus. In a recent renovation of the campus' student center, Powercat Financial was given a new office space with dedicated financial counseling rooms and shared work spaces. The involvement and support from students has helped push this to be a campus priority.