Wausau and Statewide Tax and FAFSA Project
Since 2009, WIPPS has partnered with the Center on Business and Poverty, the Wisconsin Credit Union league, Precision Information, the Department of Public Instruction, the IRS, UW-Extension, and a variety of local organizations to provide tax and Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) preparation for low income families, employees, and students. This project represents a series of multi-pronged efforts to build wealth in realistic, achievable, and meaningful ways. For example, WIPPS joined the REAL Progress & Pathways to Prosperity (RP3) initiative to help Wisconsin credit unions use an online financial literacy tool that trained employees in improving their own financial decision-making. The RP3-trained employees also became more knowledgeable in assisting credit union customers with making better financial choices in their lives.
WIPPS also worked with a University of Wisconsin-Marathon County accounting professor on a service-learning course that taught students to become certified IRS tax preparation assistants. The UWMC students helped staff existing Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites to increase the number of individual and families served in Marathon County. WIPPS is linking these projects to FAFSA preparation training and building capacity to help more college students access millions of dollars in financial aid that often goes unused by partnering with DPI on their College Goal Sunday FAFSA preparation campaign. First year efforts at the Wausau VITA site in 2010 assisted 50 low income families and individuals, and follow-up plans for 2011 included doubling the number of clients served. The entire project involved numerous partners throughout the state, and, as of the Fall of 2011, is entering its third year of service.