Northern Virginia Community College

Clint Young is a financial aid adviser for Northern Virginia Community College. On top of this work, he serves as the coordinator for work study, financial literacy, and default prevention. Financial education has been a big focus of his work at NOVA and he has helped create a holistic framework of delivery for the campus.

Young explains, “There are five main components of NOVA’s financial literacy program. There is a student success skills course, a financial literacy blog, CashCourse coursework modules, workshops, and free financial coaching for students.”

The student success skills course focuses on time management, note taking, test preparation, academic planning, career decision making, financial literacy and critical thinking.

“New students are required to take this within their first 15 credits. One of the learning objectives is being able to articulate the benefits of money management, so the course covers financial literacy. This course is mainly used to help students become successful in their first year,” Young says.

In addition to these classroom applications, they introduce students to financial literacy using CashCourse. Young offers prizes to students as incentives for completing a CashCourse coursework module.

Young explains, “We give out four $100 grants to on-campus students and four $100 bookstore gift for online students from a drawing of students who have completed a CashCourse coursework module with a score of 80 percent or above. For each of the five CashCourse coursework modules, we offer eight $100 awards.”

Young believes it is important for students to understand the value of money management in order to engage them with financial education.

“When students learn how they can benefit they have a desire to learn more. The CashCourse contest is an incentive to get them to take that first step,' Young says.

Emphasizing real-world examples that affect students in their current life stage has been an effective engagement strategy at NOVA.

Young describes, “I show them calculators on what happens when you only pay the minimum on credit card balances. It will take forever to pay off and they will end up paying much more than the original amount. We also discuss compound interest and the importance of starting to save for retirement early in their career when the power of compound interest is on their side.”

NOVA’s financial literacy programming also includes several free financial services available to students.

“We partner with the grant-funded Working Student Success Network to provide free tax preparation workshops. We have volunteers that help students file their taxes for free using Turbo Tax. We often pair a money management workshop with these tax preparation sessions. We have also partnered with an accredited financial counselor via the Virginia Cooperative Extension to provide free financial coaching to students and others in the area,” Young says.

When asked about advice for other schools implementing financial literacy, Young emphasized getting buy-in from administration, and he offered some talking points.

“Students who develop good money management habits such as sticking to a budget, living within their means, and borrowing prudently are more likely to complete their degree since financial issues are one of the primary reasons students stop attending college,” Young says. “Financially savvy students are also less likely to default on any loans that they may receive and this can drive down the school’s cohort default rate. Since a high default rate negatively affects borrowers and the institution demonstrating this connection to administrators at your institution can help garner support for financial literacy programs.”

Check out NOVA's financial literacy blog and learn more about their financial literacy efforts.

May 2016