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FAMU Receives Grant to Create Student Financial Education Program
Tallahassee, Fla. – Florida A&M University (FAMU) has been awarded a $40,000 grant by the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) to participate as a research partner in the initiative “Enhancing Student Financial Education.” Fifteen grants were awarded as part of the groundbreaking CGS best practice program, co-sponsored by TIAA-CREF.

“We are excited to work with the Council of Graduate Schools and TIAA-CREF to prepare students to manage their personal finances through sound planning, saving and budgeting,” said Co-Principal Investigator Verian Thomas, Ph.D., interim assistant vice president and dean for graduate studies and research. “This program will allow students to gain knowledge that can be applied to their personal career goals rather than learning based on model scenarios.” Thomas will be assisted by Shawnta Friday-Stroud, Ph.D., co-principal investigator and a multidisciplinary team on campus.

The FAMU SFE Program will train and mentor graduate students across a variety of disciplines to conduct research in the areas of financial literacy, debt management, paying for college, and financial decision-making within minority and low-income communities. During the two-year program, a graduate student from each of the Business Administration, Counseling Education, and Community Psychology programs will work with faculty members to assist staff from the FAMU Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to deliver the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s (FDIC) financial education program in the SFE seminars and workshops. These three graduate fellows will work with their faculty mentors to conduct the research and disseminate their findings via conference presentations, proceedings, and manuscripts that will be submitted for publication.

By surveying and measuring the effectiveness of each school's programming, the project will enable CGS to develop best practices for improving financial education among college students and graduate students. These findings will be made widely available to the higher education community through interactive tools and resources over the next two years.

The selection of awardees was made through a competitive proposal process involving an independent selection committee of experts in higher education reforms and financial education. Additional institutions selected to receive funding include, Cornell University, Eastern Illinois University, Iowa State University, Kansas State University, Loyola University Chicago, Mississippi State University, University of Colorado System, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, University of Kentucky, University of Maryland, Baltimore County; University of South Florida; and Winthrop University. An additional 19 universities will participate in the project as affiliate partners.
 
CGS President Debra W. Stewart lauded the field of proposals, noting that the project addresses an area of leading concern for graduate deans, according to an annual survey of CGS members.

"In collaboration with a range of stakeholders at their institutions, the graduate community is stepping up to help students prepare for the financial challenges of college life and beyond," Stewart said. "Universities recognize that money management skills are no longer optional. They're essential for academic success as students work more, borrow more, and balance more family obligations with their studies."

"By working together, universities and the private sector are uniquely well-positioned to provide students with the tools and resources they need to effectively manage their financial futures," said Roger W. Ferguson, Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF. "Working with CGS, we are proud to partner with schools across the nation to help put students on a path toward fiscal responsibility and financial well-being."

Data collection for the project will begin October 2013 with a baseline survey of student financial knowledge, attitudes and behaviors. A control group of students will be surveyed to measure the effectiveness of interventions, and a post-program survey will examine the progress made by students who participated in the project curriculum and outreach. A survey of financial standing will gather information about household income, savings and borrowing to study how these factors influence students' financial skills.

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