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Government grants and free counselling sessions

Someone Who Will Never Charge You


Jennifer Abel, M.S., AFC
Senior Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences
Unit Coordinator
Virginia Cooperative Extension, Arlington County
3308 S Stafford Street
Arlington, VA 22206


  Interview Highlights

  • Cooperative Extension Service Created through an Act of Congress in 1914.
  • Created to extend the research based information created in the Land Grant Universities to the general public that can use this information.
  • Every state has at least one Land Grant University.
  • Offices are usually in every county.
  • They provide classes and free information to the public.
  • She specializes in nutrition and personal finance.
  • They have classes on topics like budgeting, credit and debt management, savings, etc.
  • They have a special 5-week financial course for are also allowed to attend.
  • They also have special classes on financial management.
  • They also offer FREE ONE-ON-ONE FINANCIAL counseling.
  • Help if you are drowning in debt and want to know how to get out of it.
  • They are funded through federal, state and local tax dollars.
  • There are a lot of legitimate and non-legitimate debt counselors out there.
  • They help people call their creditors or even help choose a service to help.
  • They sit with people and help make the calls with them.
  • There is no "Magic Wand Option".
  • They train volunteers to help people one-on-one and to also give the classes.
  • About 150 people a year get free one-on-one counseling.
  • Most classes are free, but some have a small charge like $20 for the 5-week women's financial course because they give you books with the course.
  • There are 6,000 people that go through the courses.
  • Most offices provide similar courses and services.
  • Most people are unaware of how much debt they really have.
  • People don't realize how bad it is to just make monthly minimum payment on your credit card bill.
  • They help you call your credit card company for interest rate decrease or decrease in size of payments.
  • They discuss the option of bankruptcy so you can understand your options.
  • They also offer classes and help for entrepreneurs.
  • There are micro-business incubators run by non-profits like the Enterprise Development Group in Arlington and The Arlington Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless that help people start their own business who are in transitional housing.
  • They also do Nutritional Education, 4-H Programs (includes photography, summer camps, etc.) as well as gardening and horticulture and becoming a master gardener.