As part of an ongoing effort to deliver multigenerational education opportunities to families, Central New Mexico Community College (CNM) is now offering a financial literacy course that allows students and their children to learn side-by-side, according to a press release from the college.
The 12-week course is offered on CNM’s Montoya Campus through the School of Business and Information Technology. In the course—which is offered in both English and Spanish—students learn the basics of money management, including budgeting, borrowing, and planning for a healthy financial future.
The course will receive funding from a grant awarded by the Aspen Institute Ascend program and cater predominately to underserved populations. The goal is to teach student-parents how to make informed financial decisions and improve the quality of their lives.
“Everybody should take this class. Financial literacy is a life skill that everyone should learn,” says Kalynn Pirkl, the associate dean of CNM’s School of Business and Information Technology.
Financial literacy has been a hot topic the past few years. According to a 2017 study by U.S. Bank, students want to learn more about saving and investing money, debt and money management, and understanding credit.
In response to student interest, several colleges are offering financial literacy programs. For example, the California Community Colleges (CCC) system recently implemented educational programming across each of its 114 colleges that includes a crash course in financial literacy produced by the National Endowment for Financial Education. The desired outcome is for students to have the knowledge they need to “save, invest, stay out of debt and have more money saved for retirement,” according to the website for CCC’s chancellor.
But CNM’s financial literacy course is unique in that students and their children can learn side-by-side. Students enrolled in the course can bring their children between the ages of six and 15, and each family is served a free dinner before class begins. While students are in class, their children receive tutoring and homework help from trained tutors and CNM students majoring in Teacher Education. After each class, both students and their children are assigned financial literacy homework to complete together.
“A lot of working parents can’t come to class but with this grant we are able to offer services that allow parents to bring their kids with them,” says Pirkl. To accommodate busy schedules, the class meets in person just one night per week, and most of the coursework is online.
The course serves as an introduction to student-parents hoping to earn an associate degree or certificate from CNM. And because childcare is included, students have a higher chance of returning to the college and completing a degree.
Eight years of data from Monroe Community College suggests access to campus child care centers increased student parents’ odds of returning to college the following year by 17 points (68% vs. 51%) and their odds of graduating on time by 26 points (41% vs. 15%) (CNM release, 1/16).