Cornell University’s project tackles challenges in financial literacy education on multiple platforms, from peer guidance to workshops and online tools. The project creates a holistic, coordinated, comprehensive, and developmental approach to addressing financial needs of students, undergraduate through graduate/professional, by establishing a partnership among offices across campus that focus on academic success, student life, financial aid, student career services, student leadership organizations, international students, and human resources.
Project plan and activities:
Financial literacy materials and additional information were disseminated from multiple partners in Cornell’s project; this includes a new financial literacy website, which includes links to news reports, blogs, tools, resources about financial management, and information about project-related programming and events. The new financial literacy website, print materials, workshops and events, online and social media tools, blog presence, and guidance from faculty and future faculty develop campus-wide awareness of the need for student financial literacy education.
Cornell built upon its Graduate Students Mentoring Undergraduates (GSMU) partnership between the Graduate School and undergraduate Office of Academic Diversity Initiatives (OADI) to develop a Peer Mentor program of graduate and advanced undergraduate students. These students are trained to help create peer awareness of the need for sound financial information and decision making and can guide peers to appropriate resources at Cornell and elsewhere specifically designed for students at various stages and transitions of their academic and professional careers. GSMU mentors share best practices in budgeting and saving with undergraduate students.
The project incorporats financial literacy education into ongoing future faculty programs though the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) and the Cornell University Center for the Integration of Research, Teaching, and Learning (CU-CIRTL). The project uses the national CIRTL Network’s online “classroom” to host financial literacy programs and to disseminate information among the 22 other CIRTL institutions.
Events included Financial Literacy Week, featuring a day-long Financial Literacy Fest, and other sessions that focused on budgeting, financial decision making and behaviors, education investment, credit management, and many other areas of financial literacy.
Cornell’s project has three phases. In Phase I, a project Steering Committee was formed to inventory existing financial literacy resources, identify potential resource gaps, implement focus groups with student participants in selected project partner programs, conduct pre-intervention and financial standing surveys developed by CGS, and train Peer Mentors through the Graduate School, OADI, and the GSMU program. The inventory formed the basis for a new Cornell website on managing personal finances. Phase 2 involved the beginning of workshops, CTE brown bag lunch events, CIRTL Coffee-Hours and other Network events, Financial Literacy Week featuring a day-long Financial Literacy Fest, and implementing the student-to-student Peer Mentor program. Phase 3 is a continuation of the project activities and assessments of the project’s effectiveness.
More information on the project can be found here.