Monroe Community College is among four schools nationwide that will develop and launch a coaching program aimed at improving student financial health and graduation rates.
The National Council for Workforce Education will provide MCC with individualized coaching and technical assistance; training, guidance and support needed to hire staff; and assistance in building a successful, sustainable program, officials say. MCC will use a financial coaching program launched by SUNY Westchester Community College in 2014.
“MCC serves students by empowering them, through education and holistic support, to be financially literate and achieve economic security,” says MCC President DeAnna Burt-Nanna.
MCC’s capacity for innovation, staff knowledge and commitment to student success, placed it in a favorable spot. It is slated to receive up to $138,000 to develop the financial coaching effort.
The other schools developing the program are Renton Technical College in Washington state; Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black college and university in North Carolina; and Columbus State Community College in Ohio. The inaugural schools that will continue their financial coaching programs for a second year include three community colleges in New York and one in Flint, Mich., officials say.
“As a nonprofit committed to supporting practitioners and workforce leaders to deliver equity-conscious and impactful workforce education programs, we believe that financial wellness programming is critical to addressing financial security barriers for workforce education learners and will serve to mitigate gender and racial equity wealth gaps,” says Darlene Miller, executive director of NCWE.
The program now is expanding nationally from four to nine colleges through a $2.5 million investment from JPMorgan Chase.
“Financial coaching is about behavior change and empowering people to take charge of their future by connecting them to resources that build healthy financial habits and in turn drive academic, career and personal achievement,” says Marco Villegas, vice president, Global Philanthropy for Rochester at JPMorgan Chase. “Monroe Community College is adept at serving students who face barriers to graduation and employment opportunities and this program will build on their ability to meet the needs of their students and help them achieve economic mobility.”
The NCWE team will also help MCC develop a long-term approach to embed financial wellness into its strategic and budget plans, with an eye toward sustainability.
“Together with the National Council for Workforce Education and JPMorgan Chase, MCC is removing obstacles to graduation and meaningful careers that pay family-sustaining wages,” Burt-Nanna says. “This partnership demonstrates our commitment to the economic vitality of the community by uplifting the lives of our students.”
A fall 2022 student financial wellness survey from Trellis Research found that nearly three in four students experienced some form of financial distress. The study pooled students at two-year and four-year institutions.
Concerns impacted academics—students had difficulty concentrating on school because of their financial situation. Learners over 24 years old, first-generation students, students who saw themselves as workers who attend school, or students who reported it was important they support their family financially while enrolled were more likely to say they had difficulty concentrating on schoolwork because of their financial situation compared to their peers, the report states.
Students of color, females, first-generation students or those who were enrolled part-time were among the higher percentages of respondents who experienced key indicators of distress compared to all undergraduate respondents.
Financial distress indicators include inadequacy in covering unexpected costs, mental health and basic needs insecurity. Other indicators of distress—such as selling belongings to make ends meet or running out of money eight or more times within a 10-month period—beset substantial portions of students, the report states.
Smriti Jacob is Rochester Beacon managing editor. The Beacon welcomes comments and letters from readers who adhere to our comment policy including use of their full, real name. Submissions to the Letters page should be sent to [email protected].