Kansas State University Powercat Financial

Powercat Financial is Kansas State University’s student money management center; it provides one-on-one counseling, workshops, and online resources to K-State students. Their exemplary work has been previously profiled as a CashCourse Success Story thanks to their student-led approach helmed by Jodi Kaus, the Powercat Financial director. We spoke with Kaus again to learn more about her cross-campus collaboration to teach more students about personal finance.

Kaus has developed a financial education badge with K-State 360, a portal that captures students’ co-curricular involvement while in school and offers career readiness resources.

“Through K-State 360, students can work to achieve certain competencies and can attain badges for deeper-dive work,” says Kaus. “Similar to having a transcript for their academic performance, K-State 360 provides them a co-curricular report that captures all of the other things they’ve done to be really well-rounded.”

The program initially focused on leadership competencies, but financial savvy was quickly identified as a needed area for student development. Kaus brought her expertise working in the field of financial education to develop a badge with the program.

“We thought a financial education badge would be really valuable to offer students and a huge asset to future employers,” Kaus says. “Powercat Financial is a signature partner, and we are frequently highlighted as a good example of partnering through our collaboration with K-State 360. We offer the ‘Get Money Savvy with CashCourse’ badge.”

This badge focuses on the CashCourse coursework modules, which take about 45 minutes and are offered in both English and Spanish. In addition to completing these courses, Powercat Financial requires students to attend an online webinar on CashCourse.

Students are required to complete the “Getting Started with Saving and Investing” module, but the remaining three can be any coursework module of their choosing, such as insurance, budgeting, or creating a plan to pay for school.

The financial education badge is just one of the badges students can work to attain. K-State 360 helps students identify experiences outside of their courses that are valuable to their overall development.

“Students can progress through the different competencies and are encouraged to do a high-impact learning experience such as completing an internship or conducting research,” Kaus explains.

The final phase of the program is 360 certification, where students go to the career center and practice explaining what they’ve achieved within K-State 360 and why it’s relevant to their future job or graduate program.

The interview experience and the portfolio help prepare students to promote themselves to future employers and to refine needed workplace skills. The K-State 360 competencies include teamwork, diversity, leadership, problem solving, career development, and communication.

Students are incentivized to complete these curriculum through a points system, earning points by completing badges, which helps gamify K-State 360. For example, the CashCourse badge is worth 500 points. K-State 360 hosts a Pointspalooza event where students can submit their points to win prizes, such as an on-campus office they can use during finals.

The “Get Money Savvy with CashCourse” badge has helped open the doors to financial education for many students. Kaus notes that it’s a way of nudging students to engage with money management, which helps them realize how important personal finance is to their lives.

“Students often don’t realize how helpful financial education is until they engage with it,” she says. “So many of them are so busy with academic work that they don’t think about their finances. We find when students take the time to engage, they see how impactful it is with the future planning and current decisions.”

When asked what advice she has for other schools implementing similar measures, Kaus emphasized patience with letting a program grow.

“With K-State 360, we had to be okay with rolling it out mostly to first-year students when we first introduced the program,” Kaus says. “It is okay that we are starting now and it will take us four to five years before this becomes the new norm. Just be patient with onboarding that kind of expansive program and know it will take time to take root.”

May 2019