The College of Family and Consumer Sciences celebrated the growth of its financial planning program at a dedication ceremony for the Charles Schwab Financial Planning Center on April 11.
On behalf of independent investment advisors, Schwab Advisor Services partnered with Charles Schwab Foundation to provide funding toward a major renovation project within one of the college’s oldest buildings that will enhance students’ experiential learning opportunities.
Combined with support from the University of Georgia, the college and additional private funds, the renovation represents an investment of nearly $1 million and dramatically expands the space available for a program that is steadily growing in enrollment.
“We have prospered in a short period of time because of the amazing people we have to work with, especially the students,” faculty member Lance Palmer said at Thursday’s ceremony. “We are so grateful for the support of Schwab and our partner firms that has allowed us to transform this historic building into a cutting-edge financial planning communication training facility.”
The renovated space now includes three client interview rooms, a state-of-the-art observation lab for students to conduct and record financial planning and tax filing sessions as well as additional office space for graduate students and faculty.
The three-story house on South Campus was constructed in 1939 and originally served as a residence for students in the college’s home management course and then office space for faculty and graduate students.
Lisa Salvi, Vice President of Business Consulting and Field Experience for Schwab Advisor Services, said it was “surreal” to see the renovation project in person after several years of planning.
“The reason Schwab looks for partner universities like UGA is because we want to help create awareness of the wonderful, entrepreneurial career opportunities that exist within the independent advisory industry,” she said, “and to do our part to support programs that create high-quality talent for those firms to hire. UGA’s innovative approach to preparing future financial planners is truly inspiring.”
UGA President Jere Morehead noted one of the programs that will benefit from the renovation project is the online component of the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, Virtual VITA, which gives students the opportunity to provide free tax preparation for Georgia citizens through a partnership with UGA Extension.
Students completed nearly 400 tax returns in the program’s first year, saving an average of $300 per resident. The technology enhancements made possible by the renovation project will allow the program to expand.
“These are incredibly valuable programs for Georgians as well as our students,” Morehead said.
The college’s financial planning program was first registered with the CFP® Board in 2001 and started with just seven students. There are now well over 200 undergraduates and approximately 80 graduate students in the program.
The program is fully accredited by the CFP® Board and has been ranked as one of the top 10 programs in the country by Financial Planning Magazine.
“I could not be prouder of our faculty,” FACS Dean Linda Kirk Fox said. “They have remained steadfast in their commitment to creating a better world through financial literacy, service to community and sending out highly-skilled professionals for a growing industry. This collaboration with Schwab and our partner firms only strengthens that commitment.”
Photos from the event can be viewed here.
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