Fiscal fitness: Improving financial health through innovative tool
By Hayli Morrison
A new online planning tool is giving K-Staters a better look at their financial future.
SALT* is the latest offering from American Student Assistance, a 60-year-old nonprofit with roots in student loan servicing. Membership is free for students and alumni who visit the SALT website, made possible through a partnership with K-State’s Powercat Financial Counseling and a gift from the Lattner Family Foundation. SALT provides web access to job and scholarship search engines, deal and discount alerts, budgetary tools and financial guidance online or by phone.
“Those who have logged in have been really excited, particularly about the financial counselors they can call and talk to,” said Jodi Kaus, director of Powercat Financial Counseling.
Kaus added that an important feature of the site is its personalized approach to finance, letting users upload individual financial data and create custom plans. K-State students found that approach very enlightening in a recent class exercise.
“Several said they felt students should be able to access this site before they even get to college,” said Assistant Professor Ann Coulson, who recently assigned her personal financial planning students to write an exploratory essay about SALT. “One student said it made her become more organized about her spending and saving decisions.”
Other students in Coulson’s class reported reading about salary negotiations, discovering new scholarships and structuring debt repayment plans around their personal data.
“So many families don’t even know this stuff, and it’s so easy for the students to borrow money — this is a tool that sort of wakes them up,” Coulson said, adding that the class expressed gratitude for their free access to the website.
The SALT partnership is an important milestone along Powercat Financial Counseling’s four-year journey. The “for students, by students” advisory group continues breaking new ground at K-State despite relatively limited resources.
Recognized by the White House as a collegiate leader in financial education, PFC has doubled its staff, tripled its client load and even turned away prospective employees for lack of space and resources. Long-term, PFC director Jodi Kaus envisions a larger staff, an assistant director and a dedicated clinical space on campus with rooms for education and training.
“To keep up with the growth we continue to see every year, we really need a clinical space where students can develop into leaders and we can continue to serve this student body,” Kaus said. “If we’re training people to enter the workforce, it’s our critical duty to train them to manage their own finances.”
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How you can help
Powercat Financial Counseling needs support to continue inspiring the K-State community through innovation on campus and online. To learn how you can help, please contact Jennifer Rettele-Thomas at the KSU Foundation at 800-432-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.