ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS (February 6, 2024) — Twelve Augustana College students are assisting local residents file their tax returns through the United Way Quad Cities Volunteer Income Tax Assistant (VITA) Coalition. Olivia Melton, associate professor of accounting, said the initiative serves Quad Cities’ residents and benefits students, who gain problem-solving experience.

The QC VITA Coalition is led by United Way Quad Cities in collaboration with AARP of Western Illinois and AARP of Eastern Iowa. Nationally, VITA programs recruit community volunteers to help prepare basic, current-year tax returns for eligible tax-payers free of charge for eligible individuals with a household income of $64,000 or less. According to the United Way, the program has helped return about $12 million to families and individual filers in the area.

“Augustana students have been participating in the VITA program for over twenty years,” said Melton. “This initiative enables students to actively contribute to their local community, breaking free from the confines of the ‘Augie bubble’ and fostering a broader understanding of real-world scenarios.”

The project enhances the professional capabilities of participating students and makes them active contributors to the well-being of their local area, Melton said.

Augustana senior Blake Oliver said volunteering with the VITA program has improved his communication skills, his ability to multitask, and his connection with the Quad Cities.

“The best part about the VITA program is seeing the relief wash over the person I was helping when I tell them their taxes were filed,” said Oliver, an Accounting, Business Administration-Finance, and Business Administration-Business Intelligence triple major. “Tax time is stressful for everyone. Being able to help people get through this time was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.”

In addition to serving the community, Augustana’s Assistant Vice President for Business Affairs and Controller Jacob Bobbitt has assisted Augustana’s international students file returns since 2019. Last year, with the aid of Augustana’s Office of International Student Scholar Services and students majoring in accounting, Bobbitt led six workshops assisting more than 190 international students file their returns.

“Augustana is committed to helping students inside and outside the classroom, and this initiative helps demystify filing taxes for the college’s large cohort of international students,” he said.

Bobbitt said all international students are required to file with the IRS, regardless if they have earned income.

Individuals may book a VITA appointment or opt for walk-in appointments now through April 12.  For further information about VITA, e-mail Max Bigalk at or call 563.344.0352.

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