By SUSAN JONES
A collaboration with the nonprofit financial consulting organization GreenPath and TIAA will allow most Pitt employees to get one-on-one finance and debt coaching at no cost, according to an announcement by the Office of Human Resources.
During one of two webinars explaining GreenPath’s services, a representative of the company said there are several reasons that people reach out to them.
Are you struggling to get a loan or credit?
Do you have high-interest rate debt (or any debt)?
Do you want better a understanding of credit?
Do you want to start a budget or savings plan?
Are you considering buying a house?
Are there other major life events (baby, deaths, medical bills, marriage, divorce, etc.) on the horizon?
Nicole Mellor pointed out that nobody is immune from life change, and GreenPath provides “an advocate in your corner to empathize with you through what your options are and help you create a plan so that you can figure out where do I go from here.”
The free one-on-one coaching can involve pulling your credit report and looking at your expenses to see where you can save. “The goal is to motivate you to take action,” Mellor said. This can include counseling on budgeting, rental delinquency, and mortgage default or delinquency.
The program is open to:
Full- and part-time (at 50 percent effort or greater in the tenure stream) regular faculty
Full-time regular postdoctoral associates
Full-time regular postdoctoral scholars
Full- and part-time regular research associates
Full- and part-time regular staff
Eligible employees also can participate in a debt management plan service, for a fee, that provides an individually designed plan to help individuals work with creditors to receive better repayment terms and help pay off debt faster.
Mellor used the example of an actual client who had been out of work for a year and lost $75,000 in income. She had accumulated about $15,000 in debt over two years, which Mellor says is the average, but they work with people who have much higher or lower debt.
GreenPath worked with her creditors to reduce her payments overall by $260 a month, and she paid off the debt in 36 months — saving $24,000 in interest.
Because of the collaboration with Pitt and TIAA, the setup fee for the debt management plan is waived, but individuals will have to pay a monthly maintenance fee around $38 a month, but can be as high as $75 a month. Payments to creditors are made through GreenPath through one consolidated amount. Mellor noted that this is not a settlement with the creditors or a loan; all the debts will eventually be paid off.
GreenPath coaches are available by telephone — 877-655-2340 — from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. The service also is open to spouses and partners of Pitt employees.
A recording of the information session will be available on the HR website after the webinars take place.
Susan Jones is editor of the University Times. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-244-4042.
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