Mar 15, 2011
Thanks to a new grant and the collaboration of numerous community partners, Fox Valley Technical College has a unique resource to help people better manage their finances, both during and after college.
The concept of “financial wellness” is an appropriate one these days. As the national economy continues to sputter and unemployment rates hover close to 10%, many people are focusing on individual finances—and considering how higher education can help them achieve their goals. With that in mind, Fox Valley Technical College and collaborating partners—the Fox Valley Technical College Foundation; the Financial Information and Service Center (FISC), a program of Goodwill Industries of North Central Wisconsin, Inc.; and Community First Credit Union; launched their new initiative.
In January, the organizations opened a Financial Wellness Center on FVTC’s Appleton campus. The center, located in the Counseling Services office, is a one-stop resource for students looking for guidance on how to increase their financial stability. It is funded by a grant from the Basic Needs Giving Partnership Fund within the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, and supported by the U.S. Venture Fund for Basic Needs, the J. J. Keller Foundation, and other community partners. Students have access to a range of services—everything from educational workshops to one-on-one budget and debt counseling, scholarship and financial aid information, asset-building opportunities, and more.
“We’ve set up the center as a place of hope,” says Patti Jorgensen, FVTC’s vice president of Student and Community Development. “Many people seek financial counseling in dire emergencies. We want the center to be a welcoming place where people can go before things reach that emergency stage.”
Diane Drew, a FISC financial counselor at the new center, echoes Jorgensen’s sentiments. “One of FISC’s primary goals is to help educate people so they can make wise financial choices,” says Drew, who also graduated from FVTC with an associate degree in Banking and Financial Services
. “Over the past years, we’ve seen people who haven’t been able to complete their education because of financial obstacles. The Financial Wellness Center will go a long way toward helping reduce or eliminate those obstacles.”
In recent years, FVTC has been serving large numbers of nontraditional students such as displaced workers, military veterans, and homemakers. Many of them have been unaware of scholarships, financial aid options, and community-based resources such as those offered by FISC and Community First Credit Union.
Jorgensen adds that members of FVTC’s OWLS (Older, Wiser Learners) student club also offered helpful input. “OWLS is a solid anchor for displaced workers; its members are typically older students who have returned to college because of job losses or life-changing experiences,” she explains. “Club members shared that a lot of people want and need financial education. Their ideas and suggestions were instrumental as we developed the idea for the center.”