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One-Stop-Shop for Financial Help at LaGuardia’s Single Stop

 

Long Island City, NY—April 25, 2014— Pinching pennies was necessary for Dawn Davis, a 40-year-old single mother who was supporting her two sons while pursuing a degree at LaGuardia Community College.  So when it came time to file her taxes, instead of going to a company that would charge her hundreds of dollars, she turned to the College’s Single Stop, a center that provides students with free financial services.

 

“Going through Single Stop is excellent, it’s ideal for me,” said Ms. Davis, who interns at the center.  “Being a mom, I can use that $300, $400 towards food. Doing the taxes for free here is a great benefit to my family.”

 

Single Stop is a one-stop-shop financial assistance program on the LaGuardia campus that focuses on helping students maintain economic security and this year helped almost 1,100 students file for taxes.

 

“Our goal is to provide support services,” said Rhonda Mouton, the program director at LaGuardia. “We want to help students alleviate any financial stress so they can use their money for their education.”

 

As the recent tax deadline approached, Single Stop partnered with the Food Bank of New York City to provide students with free tax assistance to file for their refund.

 

“The Food Bank is part of the VITA program,” said Rosario Licetti, the Food Bank’s site manager at LaGuardia. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program works with lower income employees, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers.

 

This tax season, Single Stop and the Food Bank were able to provide assistance to LaGuardia students and their family members as well as some employees of the school.

 

First opening its doors in 2010, Single Stop has helped thousands of students and their families. In 2013 alone, Single Stop was able to connect almost 4,600 LaGuardia students to financial professionals.

 

Amid class assignments, part-time and full-time jobs and providing family members and their own children, students must also learn to file taxes, enroll in health insurance and budget their finances. Single Stop assumes a median role of connecting students with private organizations and professionals who can provide direction for free.

 

Located in the C-Building, the non-profit organization provides other services including legal assistance, financial planning and benefits screening.

 

“Based on their eligibility, we help students with their government assistance,” said Ms. Mouton. “We can provide SNAP, healthcare, immigration services, child support and unemployment. Students can actually apply for government assistance here.”

 

In providing financial assistance and legal counseling, Single Stop partners with The Financial Clinic, a New York City-based company that focuses on helping low-income and working-poor families.

 

“Everyone has a unique situation and the financial component is very big,” Ms. Mouton said. “It’s showing them how to handle their money.”

 

Single Stop does not only provide financial assistance for their students. Since August 2013, Single Stop has been conducting a trial run for a food pantry located in the same building.

 

“We help 50 families a week,” said Ms. Mouton, “providing food for three meals a day.”

 

Students can only come via appointment, but after registering they are able to receive food on a needed basis. Guidelines to receive food from the pantry are made flexible to accommodate more students, according to Mouton.

 

Single Stop offers its help to all students. The organization recognizes that even students who work full time need help managing their money.

 

“Any student can come to Single Stop,” said Ms. Mouton. “They don’t have to be low income, they just have to be in need.”

 

While interning for them, Ms. Davis, a Flushing resident, received the financial benefits made available to her to help improve her credit and apply for government assistance programs like SNAP. Having since graduated from LaGuardia, she now works part time with Single Stop and is pursuing a degree in social work at Lehman College.

 

“The positive impact they made in my life, I want to do that for someone else.” Ms. Davis said.

   

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achiever their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success education underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.

 

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