Financial Literacy 101 Case Study Series: The University of South Carolina at Columbia
Boston, May 20, 2012 - The University of South Carolina at Columbia is a public institution that serves nearly 30,000 students. Since 2009, Financial Literacy 101 has been provided through the university's Student Success Center. The program is managed by the university's Coordinator of Financial Literacy.
While Financial Literacy 101 is available to all student populations, it is primarily used by undergraduates. Eighty six percent of course participants are considered financially dependent for financial aid purposes and the average age is twenty years old.
When the University of South Carolina at Columbia began their financial education program, Financial Literacy 101 served as the primary education and outreach tool. The university heavily promoted the program to both student groups and to faculty. A unique access code was provided for each "leader," typically the president of an organization or a first-year seminar instructor, to use within their group or class. The Student Success Center provided recommendations for implementing the program as well as follow-up activities related to the content. The university currently has over fifty access codes associated with their Financial Literacy 101 account.
Since beginning their financial literacy initiative, the program has expanded to include a wide variety of resources including in the classroom instruction, small group workshops, large seminars, one-on-one counseling, and online. Financial Literacy 101 is now a piece of a large, staffed program that continues to integrate the program across all of their programs because if its "accessibility, functionality, and effectiveness." Financial Literacy 101 is the only online component used within their comprehensive financial literacy program.
The Student Success Center works closely with campus partners to optimize Financial Literacy 101 adoption. Strategies that have led to high levels of student engagement include offering the program as an extra credit opportunity or as a course requirement.
Choosing Financial Literacy 101
When describing the reasons why they chose Financial Literacy 101, Coordinator of Financial Literacy Catherine Sale mentioned:
- A tailored student experience. Described as "extremely important," the ability of Financial Literacy 101 to provide personalized content and feedback is a key capability of the program. By tailoring the student experience with a high degree of personalization, the program avoids "being 'canned' which is a quality we've seen with so many other websites."
- Comprehensive content. The program introduces students to a variety of financial concepts, from financial basics to advanced topics.
- Aggregate and student-specific assessment data. Aggregate pre- and post-surveys allow administrators "to see the impact the program has on an entire population of students" and to share that data with campus partners. Student-specific completion data also makes the program easier to implement as a requirement and to follow up with students who have started, but not completed, their assignment.
According to Ms. Sale, "Financial Literacy 101 has been an extremely helpful tool as we have worked to develop and implement our financial literacy program. It is used in a variety of formats with campus partners from both student affairs and academic affairs. The great benefit is that it allows us the opportunity to provide students a reliable, comprehensive, online tool for financial education."
Based on post-course survey data from students who have completed their Financial Literacy 101 assignment, students are pleased with the quality of the program and report significant learning gains:
- 96% of students agree that Financial Literacy 101 is "a good course."
- 94% of students agreed that the program increased their knowledge on a wide range of survey questions related to credit cards and loan payments.
- 85% of students would recommend the program to a friend.
- 86% of students agree with the statement, "Overall, I learned a lot from this course."
- 89% of students agree that the academic level of the course is "just right."
- 99% of students agree that the information presented was "complete and truthful."
These students took Financial Literacy 101's standard "financial basics" course, a 90-minute experience that includes multimedia content, budgeting and credit card repayment exercises, personalized feedback, identity theft and financial trouble risk assessments, short and long-term financial goal setting, and comprehensive pre- and post-course surveys.
When asked about future plans with for their financial education program, Ms. Sale stated, "Our program has grown exponentially over the past 12 months and we anticipate further growth as we continue to develop various programs and interventions for students. Our goal is to provide all students with whatever level of financial education they feel they need in order to lead a financial stable lifestyle. We hope that Financial Literacy 101 continues to be a great resource that we can provide our students."
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