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Community college offers free financial literacy series

If a community college were serious about building a relationship with its community, it might find useful ways to serve the community. Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ is doing just that. In recognition of Financial Literacy Month (April) Brookdale CC will offer a five-part financial literacy series tailored to people in different financial positions.

The first workshop, which takes place on March 30, is designed for people who live paycheck-to-paycheck. According to BCC, those who attend will learn about basic financial self-care and how to prioritize money management. The series aims to give people a long-term framework for achieving their financial goals.

Successive workshops (delivered via Zoom), will help people in various financial positions identify their financial goals. They’ll also improve the their financial stability, and develop plans that make sense for them. The workshops are free and open to anyone.

Offering financial literacy workshops makes sense, especially when the community members you interact with regularly have minimal financial freedom. Most people learn financial management from their families, or by trial-and-error. When parents don’t have a solid grasp on financial management, their children are not likely to succeed at managing money, either.

Lack of financial management skills can impair long-term goals like home ownership, educational attainment, entrepreneurial aspirations, and retirement savings. Poor financial management can also keep people mired in poverty and debt.

Workshops like this create an excellent opportunity to interact with and support the community that supports the community college. Besides offering useful information, it builds constituent relationships and positions the community college as a valuable community resource. It’s a great way to get people (who might not otherwise encounter the community college) to engage in learning exercises.

Financial literacy – it’s not just for poor people

Brookdale Community College is located about 20 miles northeast of Trenton and has about the same enrollment as Washtenaw Community College. (They have five campuses, but only eight Vice Presidents.) Their tuition rate is about $188 per credit hour. New Jersey has a different funding mechanism for its community colleges, so students pay much more in both tuition and fees to attend. The cost of attendance can be a real barrier for students who want to take classes there. But Brookdale still manages to connect with the community it serves by recognizing that money matters.

On the other hand, WCC Administrators (many of whom are not even Washtenaw County residents), believe that the taxpayers here are – for the most part – wealthy. Money is no object, which is why the Health and Fitness Center is allowed to torch nearly $5M in a single year and continue to operate, business-as-usual. It’s why WCC can afford to carry 13 Vice Presidents on the payroll, in addition to a President who makes nearly $400,000 per year in total compensation and bonuses, while the custodians make less than $20 per hour. (For good measure, new custodians earn $1 less than scale while they’re probationary hires.) It’s why the Trustees heartily approve of using operating funds to guarantee bond debts. And it’s why they enable the administration to issue a $26M no-bid contract for IT services, no questions asked.

There’s no need for financial literacy at Washtenaw Community College, because money is no object here.

Photo: Group of people sitting on calculator by Marco Verch under Creative Commons 2.0