Guest Post by Khadija Diallo, Benefits Hub Associate
Our Benefits Hub team at Highline College provides financial resources to community college students. United Way of King County created Benefits Hub to support students struggling with personal finances, housing and college costs.
Offering this support helps students focus on completing college instead of financial challenges.Poverty at community colleges can often be overlooked. In the United States, 46% of community college students are housing insecure and 12% are homeless.
Students are very grateful for the support that our team provides.
One student, who was given coaching on money management and access to emergency funds, said, “Benefits Hub not only helps you financially by giving you funds, but they actually help you save money; that is, you get to spend less, earn more and save more.”
Students can schedule one-on-one coaching sessions with Benefits Hub Coach Amber Conley, who is also a Highline College alumna. She is extensively trained in several areas:
- Financial coaching: starting a bank account, budgeting, applying for scholarships and grants, etc.;
- Housing support: researching affordable housing options and nearby homeless shelters and connecting students with options;
- Emergency help: providing one-time emergency funds.
As a Highline alumna, Conley has a unique connection to the students she serves. While pursuing her associate of arts degree in psychology, she also worked on campus in the Writing Center and the Tutoring Center.
In addition to financial coaching, students can talk to a Benefits Access Specialist and sign up for public benefits, ORCA LIFT, which provides reduced transit fare to those who qualify, and more.
During the tax season, students can also come during drop-in hours for help filing their taxes free of charge. This past tax season, 431 tax returns were filed at Highline College, resulting in $607,544 in tax refunds, refunds that directly benefit our community.
We at the Benefits Hub are always happy to collaborate with different faculty and student groups to hold workshops and presentations around campus. Some of our previous workshops have included cooking on a budget, FAFSA/WASFA application assistance, and managing finances. Our workshops usually run 45–60 minutes.
Benefits Hub is made possible through AmeriCorps. AmeriCorps is a yearlong commitment to serving and fighting poverty in vulnerable communities throughout the country. Every year, United Way of King County hires over 100 AmeriCorps volunteers to fulfill direct-service and capacity-building positions.
Benefits Hub coaches and associates are employed by United Way of King County, but they work at different colleges throughout the county to reduce poverty.
In addition to Highline College, other colleges across King County operate Benefits Hubs on their campuses: Green River College, North Seattle College, Shoreline Community College, South Seattle College and UW Bothell-Cascadia.
To set up an appointment, students can visit Benefits Hub Scheduling.
On Highline’s campus, Benefits Hub also has weekly drop-in hours.
Benefits Hub aims to reduce financial burdens to promote a good college experience. For more information, call or text (206) 604-3913.