NASFAA’s Gold Star Award: California Community College’s Continued Efforts on Financial Literacy

By Joelle Fredman, NASFAA Staff Reporter

The California Community College Chancellor's Office (CCCCO) was awarded NASFAA’s Gold Star Award in 2017 for its five-year plan to improve financial literacy on its campus and in its local community. Inspired by the results of a survey administered as part of that effort, the office last summer also created a pilot project to explore the impact of emailing or texting students financial literacy material. 

NASFAA's Gold Star Award honors up to three ideas each year at the annual, national conference, and recognizes innovative ideas in the financial aid arena at any level. Since 2017, CCCCO has been continuing to implement its multi-year plan, which includes “establishing a campus culture of informed financial behaviors at California’s community colleges,” and increasing the financial knowledge of community college students and communities throughout California.

“The focus continues to be training opportunities and encouraging college autonomy to implement financial literacy programs that meet students’ needs,” the office told NASFAA last week.

CCCCO has also taken on new, innovative efforts since receiving the Gold Star Award. In the summer of 2019, after analyzing the results of a financial literacy survey that showed a connection between college retention and financial wellness, the office debuted a two-year pilot program to test the impact of giving first-year, first-time students “budgeting and credit-specific financial literacy material.” 

“The essence of the initiative is to measure the academic/retention outcomes for students who choose to ‘opt-in’ or ‘opt-out’ of receiving budgeting and credit-related material ‘pushed’ to them by the school via email or text,” the office said. 

The program — modeled after a similar, federally-funded program at Austin Community College — is currently being tested at 15 institutions across the California Community College system. CCCCO has been collaborating with the University of Texas at Austin’s Ray Marshall Center (RMC), which has been nationally and internationally recognized for its policy and program evaluation in human resources and education, to help evaluate the effectiveness of the program. CCCCO said it will have another round of institutions piloting the program next summer.  

“If the pilot project’s results suggest that this approach is effective in increasing both academic success and retention, as we hope that it will, the institutions’ participation will have served to assist other California community colleges, which may choose to adopt this approach in the future,” the office said. 

Award nominations for NASFAA 2020, our annual national conference, close February 14. Submit your nominations for the Gold Star Award and other awards today.


Publication Date: 1/22/2020

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