Towson University has been awarded a $25,000 grant to expand financial education initiatives on campus. Funded by Bank of America, the grant will result in the expansion of free tax preparation services for the campus community.
The grant is the second one to be awarded to TU under the management of Professor Melissa Groves in the College of Business and Economics (CBE) and Mary Fortier in Student Financial Services. The first grant, a $25,000 award given to TU last summer, enabled the university to offer free tax preparation services through CBE on several Saturdays during the spring of 2011 and host the first FinanceFest, which offered students a multitude of financial resources, including free credit reports and financial advising. According to Mary, the second grant will enable the university to grow these types of programs.
“It’s allowing us to build upon the foundation of financial education services that the university offers,” Mary said. “We’re creating new technology-based financial literacy programs, establishing a peer coaching/mentorship program and expanding tax preparation services to add an additional site in the Administration Building.”
The grant is providing the resources to establish Mary’s office as a tax preparation site which will offer services on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Mary and other student and staff volunteers within her office will undergo tax training from the IRS this fall with the goal of having the services become available to students, faculty and staff around the beginning of tax season in mid-February. Services will be available by appointment to any member of the campus community with an income of less than $45,000 per year.
“Whereas before, we were only trained to provide assistance to citizens, the training we’re getting this fall will enable us to offer services to international students as well,” Mary said. “When you factor that in to the additional availability offered by the new site’s weekday schedule, I estimate that we’ll be able to at least double the number of people that we can assist in the preparation of tax returns.”
The tax training is being provided to Mary and the volunteers for free by the Baltimore Cash Campaign, which assists in identifying and establishing tax preparation sites on behalf of the IRS. The Campaign is a member of the Maryland Coalition for Financial Literacy (housed at TU) alongside Mary, Melissa, and Bank of America.
Mary’s office is still in need of volunteers to become a tax preparation advisor. Individuals interested in volunteering should contact Mary at x4-5269 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on how to schedule an appointment for free tax services will be available on the Daily Digest and Financial Services website this spring.