NORFOLK, Neb. - Planning for retirement is probably not high on the list of most college students. After all, most of them spend a good share of their time focused on their studies to earn a degree so they can begin working in the career of their dreams. However, one program at Northeast Community College is providing additional assistance to its students so they can understand what it takes to make good financial decisions now and be prepared for any unforeseen circumstances that may come their way in life.
Calmwater Financial Group in Norfolk is working with the College’s TRIO program to offer its students advice on managing their money, investing, and even starting to plan now for retirement. TRIO is a federally-funded academic program that serves and assists income-eligible individuals, first-generation college students and those with disabilities to progress through the academic pipeline from middle school to post-baccalaureate programs.
Northeast TRIO Director Josh Becker said financial literacy is a key objective of the program.
“It’s coming from the top from the federal government; they want this to be a focus of the program. We as a staff did what we thought we could do to provide the information, but we came to realize that it would better if the students could hear it from a financial advisor, someone who works with it every day. And we needed to find a way to make it affordable so we could include all 140 of our TRIO students.”
There are three areas the program will focus its attention over the course of the academic year. Students have the opportunity to attend once-a-month orientation presentations. Once students compete their initial orientation, they are then afforded the opportunity for as many one-one meetings as well as phone calls with a certified financial planner whenever they have any financial-related questions. These personal services will be afforded to all TRIO students for the entirety of their college career at Northeast.
During the first presentation at the College at the beginning of the academic year, Kyle Fuchtman and Boden Bierman, certified financial planners at Calmwater, spoke with an initial group of TRIO students on the basics of financial literacy and outlined what the students can expect meeting with them during the year. The program concentrates on six areas of wealth management – cash management (budgeting) and insurance, investment and retirement, and tax and estate planning.
“We go through our lives learning about math, English, science and other subjects, but one thing many students may not always be taught is the world of finances. Most people have to teach themselves what finances are and how to invest,” Fuchtman told the students. “As certified financial planners, our goal is to be educators of finances to allow people to make educated decisions in their financial futures.”
Fuchtman also told the students they don’t necessarily need financial advisors at their age, but encouraged them to become aware of what is necessary to invest.
“I would tell you to take some time to read up on what it takes to manage your finances. We’re here to give you the foundation to understand what it takes to become knowledgeable. With money, for example, stick to the basics. Control what you can control and stick to the fundamentals.”
Becker reached out to Fuchtman saying that Calmwater could provide a service comparable to what it offers to others – a contract wealth management agreement. The agreement was developed into a plan that proposed sessions where Calmwater advisors provide students with a general education of finances in group settings that could also lead to one-on-one sessions, if the need would arise.
Fuchtman said, “We’ll have 20 students come out to our office on a monthly basis. Josh and I felt that it would be good to get them out of a classroom setting and have them come into an environment where they would dress in more business casual attire in order to give them a real-world experience in a business-type setting.”
Bierman said the one-on-ones are designed to allow the students to come in with specific questions that relate to their individual situations and then receive advice as it relates to the foundations of financial education.
“Similar to meetings with individual clients, it will be Q & A as well as addressing questions related to income, debts and providing them with a financial picture so they can see how we can help them now - and as they start leaving college and move into the workforce.”
Becker believes getting the students in that type setting will allow them to see that Northeast is serious about assisting them as they learn financial literacy skills. He said he understands it may be difficult for some of the students to take something as important as this all in while they also concentrating on their education at Northeast.
“Starting the initial orientation in a group setting and then allowing them to process it and come back with some questions that may strictly relate to them and what their interests may be is important.” Becker said. “You talk to an 18-year-old about retirement, initially they think, ‘This isn’t for me; tell me in 20-years.’ But when you use the example of telling them to put something like $50 in a Roth IRA and here’s what it can do for them in the long run – maybe the lightbulb will go off.”
Calmwater is offering a discounted fee to impart financial assistance to the TRIO students. Becker is grateful, saying it is an invaluable service the firm is providing to his students.
“Kyle and Boden understand the backgrounds of the students we’re working with – first generation, income eligible and students with disabilities. This is really an asset to the students because it is probably something they could not afford,” he said. “And our ability to provide it for all 140 (TRIO) students wouldn’t have been there without Calmwater offering these services at an affordable rate. We’re very appreciative.”
To learn more about Northeast Community College’s TRIO program, log on to northeast.edu/support-services/trio.
Kyle Fuchtman (left) and Boden Bierman, certified financial planners with Calmwater Financial in Norfolk, speak to students in Northeast Community College’s TRIO program. Calmwater Financial is working with the program to offer its students advice on managing their money, investing, and even start planning now for retirement. TRIO is a federally-funded academic program that serves and assists income-eligible individuals, first-generation college students and those with disabilities.