Evaluation of the CCCCO Financial Literacy Pilot: Year One Annual Report
Authors: Ashweeta Patnaik, Cynthia Juniper, and Greg Cumpton
Date: December 2020
Publication Type: Report, 60pp.
Financial wellness and financial literacy are important when it comes to the success of community college students. With this in mind, the California Community College Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) brought together fifteen California community colleges to pilot a unique financial literacy messaging intervention (FL Pilot) in 2019. The goal of the pilot was to increase student retention and success by delivering useful financial literacy material, focusing on much-needed information about budgeting and credit, and specifically targeting first-year, first-time students, via a texting/email platform. The CCCCO partnered with the Ray Marshall Center (RMC) to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the FL pilot. RMC’s evaluation included an outcome evaluation for each college and a rigorous impact evaluation for the pilot as a whole. RMC adopted a quasi-experimental evaluation approach and used propensity score matching (PSM) to study the impacts of the pilot on key academic and retention student outcomes.
This Year 1 report builds upon and extends the analyses presented in the interim report published in May 2020. RMC researchers found that the financial literacy messaging campaign overall had a small but positive impact on first-semester GPA for all students, as well as a fairly large positive impact on both fall-to-spring retention and fall-to-fall retention for first-time college students. RMC researchers also found evidence of program impacts on short-term outcomes (first-semester GPA and fall-to-spring retention) for students receiving financial aid, but no impacts on longer-term outcomes. These findings contribute to a growing body of research investigating the use of behaviorally-informed strategies incorporating low-cost technological solutions such as text-based outreach to help students navigate complex decisions and overcome barriers that hinder college enrollment, persistence, and completion.