Till Death Do U$ Part

Grand Challenge-Building financial capability for all.51ba33af8f13423057c319e2659dd407.jpg(source: http://millennialmoneyman.com/top-15-student-loan-memes/)

According to the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare “Nearly half of all American households are financially insecure, without adequate savings to meet basic living expenses for three months.” 1 Having worked for a higher education institution and for a non-profit that works with individuals who are HIV positive, I can see the reality of the statement provided by the American Academy of Social Work and Social Welfare.

Working with a non-profit who serves the population of being HIV positive in the Western Slope that covers 22 counties, financial stability is one of the biggest challenges the individuals suffer in order to stay adherent with medication and living a healthy lifestyle. Due to the unique regions in the Western Slope, clients within those 22 counties have to travel to Grand Junction to see a specialist doctor in the HIV world. The problem all the traveling causes for the clients is that it puts a restraint on their economics of their daily lives. Many of these clients are low-income and cannot afford to travel or to take a day off from their jobs without losing that income for the day. Not only does that affect their income, but their overall health and well-being. It is crucial that clients make their doctors appointment in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Working for a higher education institution in a department which focuses in working with clients who are low-income, are first generation, and or have a documented disability, also depicts the financial disparity in the Western Slope. One of the many challenges we see is the amount of extra loans both traditional and non-traditional student take in order to help pay tuition. Receiving a higher education is an honor in itself because many individuals do not have the opportunity to receive that achievement.  What they don’t often realize is the high cost of receiving such an honor. Many of these individuals will take extra student loans to help them have a “temporary” fix to their financial problems. What they don’t realize is the strain the student loans will have on them once they graduate. Although extra money seems appropriate at the time, once they are graduated, they face the reality of paying high loan payments with extreme high interest rates.

Having the knowledge of working with two extreme different populations in the Grand Valley has shown me how this grand challenge will be an ongoing challenge for years to come. This is when education and use of resources comes into the help of these individuals. Although there are programs that help these individuals such as the Ryan White Care Act and many scholarships, it is often not enough to help cover the high cost of healthcare and education. We need to come together as a community to set goals and challenges that will help offset the needs of these individuals. As social workers, we need to put our values and ethics to work to help come up with solutions!



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