NECC Students Learn to Invest in Their Education
Income eligible Northern Essex Community College students now have the opportunity to participate in a financial literacy pilot program called “Invest in College Success” designed to help them earn up to $1,500 for college costs and learn to save and manage their money so they are more apt to complete their education.
Northern Essex is just one of three Massachusetts community colleges selected to participate in this innovative public-private partnership aimed to serve up to 1,600 students over a two-year period. NECC already recruited 15 students last fall and hopes to involve 45 students this spring.
Klinbert Garcia of Methuen is one of these students. The 19-year-old business transfer major enrolled in the program last fall.
After receiving an email detailing the Invest in College Success Program, he met with a financial aid advisor. NECC opened a savings account for him at Citizens Bank that allows him to deposit, but not withdraw.
“I was really interested in the program and earning and saving money,” he said. “I really want to study abroad so this is what I hope to put the money toward. If that doesn’t work out, I will use it toward my studies when I transfer to UMass Boston.”
The program provides financial education classes, college advising and personal text reminders, basic coaching, matched savings, and advanced personal financial coaching.
Alexis Fishbone, NECC’s director of financial aid, says that statistically lack of financial resources is a primary reason students don’t complete their college education. According to the U.S. Department of Education, community college students are less likely to take student loans, but those who do are more likely to default.
This program shows students how to save, matches their every dollar with two dollars, and educates them on financial matters so they will be successful in college and life, she says.
The partners for this venture include The Midas Collaborative, which provides program management and support; uAspire, which provides college affordability advising and support; and the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston which evaluates the impacts and outcomes of the program.
NECC students who are 18 years old and enrolled in an associate degree program, and are income eligible, will complete 12-hours of financial education that covers budgets, credit issues, college affordability planning, post-college planning, and loan and debt management. They are encouraged to save $750 over a 6 to 12 month time frame and they will earn $1,500 in matched savings. This gives them a total or $2,250 to invest in their own education. The money must be spent on qualified educational expenses including tuition, fees, books and supplies, even study abroad programs.
If students complete the Invest in College Success Program, they can participate in additional advanced financial coaching, based on the Midas Collaborative’s Financial Confidence and Coaching Program which is offered free and confidentially via Skype or phone. Participants will have access to three, one-hour coaching sessions with a Midas financial coach during which several financial barrier topics will be discussed. A pre- and post-survey will be given to coaching participants to evaluate their experiences.
NECC students interested in this program should contact Alexis Fishbone at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 978-556-3615.
Students can learn about the Invest in College Success Program at the following information days: Informational Table, Friday February 5 – 11 a.m. until noon Sports & Fitness Center lobby, Haverhill; Winterfest Table February 8, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Dimitry Building, Lawrence; February 10, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Sports & Fitness Center, Haverhill; Informational Table Friday, February 12 – Dimitry Building, Atrium, Lawrence.