Members of University of Wisconsin’s Associated Students of Madison are turning their sights on students’ accessibility to tools and resources that will help them understand and deal with their financial needs. ASM’s University Affairs Committee is also working with a local bank to help students with filing taxes.[/media-credit]

University of Wisconsin’s student government brainstormed ways to increase and improve communication concerning financial resources across campus, announcing plans for a Town Hall Meeting addressing these issues at its meeting Wednesday.

Associated Students of Madison’s University Affairs Committee heard from Rep. Mary Prunty, who has been working to increase financial literacy across the UW campus.

Prunty said when students come to college they might find themselves financially independent for the first time and may be unaware of how to handle their own finances. She said this is why it is important for students to have access to tools and resources to help them become financially literate.

“Through our campaign, we want to give students the tools and the help they need to help them become successful in their lives,” Prunty said.

According to Prunty, the financial literacy campaign is currently working with UW Credit Union’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to help students with their tax returns.

Prunty said her campaign is hoping to expand VITA’s services and help students who have been unable to receive their services in the past.

“Currently VITA serves about 100 students, but in past years thousands of students have tried to obtain this service,” Prunty said. “We realized that there is a much greater need and we are currently trying to find a way to help those students that VITA cannot serve.”

Additionally, Prunty said the campaign is working to create a Town Hall Meeting, which will incorporate all areas of campus in order to build partnerships and create a strategy to address the issue of financial literacy.

An ASM statement released Wednesday said hosting a Town Hall Meeting is the central goal of the financial literacy project. ASM hopes to bring together representatives from student groups, the university and businesses in order to improve financial education among students, the statement said.

According to ASM Advisor Kelly Krein, administrators and staff might not be aware that students are unable to find or access the information they are looking for and that is why it is important to hold a forum.

“Part of the purpose of the forum is to have students there with individuals such as staff members and who might really feel like they are making the information available but we have students who say that they are not able to access that information,” Krein said.

University Affairs Vice Chair Jenny Sharpe agreed with Krein and added there might be methods available for students to find an answer to their financial questions, but they may not know how to access that information.

Prunty said she hopes the forum will help increase financial literacy in general: on campus and abroad.

“We want to create a campus-wide movement that will include organizations, professors, students and business leaders so that we can create a strategy to address financial literacy,” Prunty said.

University Affairs committee Chair Becca Buell said the meeting will be formatted in a way similar to the campus safety forum held in September.