San Francisco (February 23, 2017)—The financial services company OneMain Financial and the national nonprofit community college reform organization Achieving the Dream announced today that Northeast Wisconsin Technical College (NWTC) has won the OneMain Financial Empowerment Award for its outstanding work helping students improve their financial literacy skills. The $25,000 award will allow NWTC to strengthen and expand its efforts to help all of its students be on solid financial ground to succeed in college and in life.
NWTC, one of more than 200 colleges that are part of the Achieving the Dream (ATD) National Reform Network, has made financial literacy and empowerment a central strategic goal of its work. Following an analysis of the financial needs of its learners, including talking directly with students and listening to insights from faculty and staff, NWTC recognized that a more comprehensive response would help address the heart of the financial stresses that many NWTC students experience.
To help address that broader need, NWTC created the Financial Wellness Center, an on-site collaborative financial coaching and financial literacy program. Through workshops, events, and one-on-one coaching, students learn how to build personal budgets, understand their credit scores, and manage personal debt, including their student loans. The center’s ultimate goal is to help students increase their financial literacy and lower their financial stress by learning how to be “fiscally fit.” Apart from helping individuals improve their financial wellness, the college also views the program as an important strategy for helping to improve retention and graduation rates of low-income students.
“Keeping a student engaged in learning and increasing his/her ability to focus more time on his/her studies leads to greater persistence and completion rates,” said Dr. H. Jeffrey Rafn, NWTC president. “The college provides financial counseling and planning services to students so that by the time they leave college they are better able to address unexpected financial expenses and create a more stable financial environment for themselves and family.”
The engine of the Financial Wellness Center is a financial coach, employed, trained and certified by the Financial Information and Service Center (FISC) and located in NWTC’s office of Student Support Services. The coach is available to counsel students through walk-ins and prearranged appointments as well as through instruction in NWTC classes. The coach’s location on the campus helps facilitate cross-departmental referrals between college counselors, financial aid staff, enrollment services, and other NWTC departments.
For students who received services through Spring 2016, the combination of financial coaching and an infusion of Student Emergency Funds had a powerful impact on persistence and completion. Slightly more than 80 percent of students who received emergency funds and financial coaching enrolled in a term after they first received funds. Approximately 37 percent earned a credential after first receiving funds, and slightly more than 87 percent either enrolled or earned credit after first receiving funds.
“We’re learning through ATD’s initiatives and other research that financial pressures create tremendous barriers to students’ ability to stay in school,” says Dr. Karen A. Stout, president of Achieving the Dream. “Even when tuition costs are taken care of, students struggle to take care of themselves and their families. Everything we can do to build their financial literacy skills will help them persist and reach their goals.”
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About Northeast Wisconsin Technical College
Northeast Wisconsin Technical College is a nationally-ranked, two-year public college where students prepare for high-tech careers and begin their bachelor’s degrees. Last year, NWTC served over 32,000 students; 7,800 students pursued degrees and diplomas and worked with over 1,100 businesses for contract training. The College has welcomed students from more than 23 countries around the globe including Egypt, Pakistan, South Africa, Brazil, Ghana, Spain, Moldova, and China. All NWTC students are provided with resources needed for success. As a result, 93 percent of grads have careers within six months of graduation and hundreds continue their education through NWTC’s transfer agreements with nearly 40 other colleges/universities.
About OneMain Financial
OneMain Financial provides personal loans with one-on-one, local service from more than 1,800 branches nationwide. With roots in lending that date back to 1912, we have been helping people achieve their dreams for generations. Our personalized loan solutions offer customers a simple and straightforward loan application, fixed rates, fixed payments, clear terms and multiple payment options. Additional information is available at OneMainFinancial.com.
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams - working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia – the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.