Achieving the Dream (ATD) and St. Petersburg College (SPC) today announced that SPC will receive $25,000 over a two-year period to expand and strengthen financial empowerment activities designed to strengthen students’ money management skills and knowledge.
The grant, funded by OneMain Holdings, Inc. and administered by Achieving the Dream, recognizes that students’ ability to manage their money, including financial aid, plays a significant role in students’ ability to persist and complete their studies. St. Petersburg College is one of the five community colleges in the ATD network that are receiving grants to launch or expand student financial empowerment efforts.
“One of the challenges students face is in making wise decisions regarding student loans, along with understanding the serious consequences of defaulting on their student loans,” said Michael Bennett, SPC’s Associate Vice President of Financial Assistance Services. “We are very excited to have been awarded this grant, especially during national Financial Literacy Month. The funds will go far in helping us educate students and provide much needed guidance on a peer-to-peer level.”
“As the largest personal finance company in the U.S., OneMain recognizes the significant need for greater financial education, especially within the country’s college student population,” said Sheldon Caplis, Director of Community Relations for OneMain. “OneMain is dedicated to supporting the communities in which we live and operate, and we are honored to expand our partnership with ATD to provide students with the critical financial empowerment tools necessary to achieve long-term collegiate, career and personal success.”
With the launch of the OneMain grant program to colleges, OneMain’s overall investment in building community college students’ financial skills to support greater persistence and academic achievement has reached nearly a half-million dollars.
“Helping students become knowledgeable, confident financial managers is a critical dimension of increasing student persistence and success,” said Dr. Karen A. Stout, President and CEO of Achieving the Dream. “This award recognizes St. Petersburg College’s readiness to deepen the network of supports inside and outside the classroom that help students reach their goals.”
With the funds, St. Petersburg College will expand their current financial literacy efforts. It’s MY FUTURE! is a targeted program aimed at ensuring college students understand the financial implications of their decisions, the array of choices they have and the importance of debt management. Using the theme: “Smart loan choices today = financial freedom tomorrow,” SPC is seeking to reach a considerably larger audience and allow for more targeted and in-depth outreach.
According to the College Board’s Trends in College Pricing 2015, the average tuition and fee for students at public community colleges was $3,435. However, this figure represented only 20 percent of the annual budget of students who pay for off-campus housing. Other costs include transportation, food, and child care.
In addition, the percentage of first-time, full-time students at public two-year colleges who took out loans increased from 15 percent in 2000-2001 to 27 percent in 2012-2013, according to “The Condition of Education 2015,” published by the National Center for Education Statistics. The average amount of loans taken out by community college students also increased 52 percent from $3,200 to $4,900.
At the end of the two-year time period, ATD will release a toolkit informed by the participating colleges’ experiences launching or expanding financial empowerment efforts to help additional colleges seeking to launch or expand their own efforts to build students’ financial skills and knowledge. Each college also will develop and report on two measures of impact relevant to its specific activities.
About Achieving the Dream
Achieving the Dream, Inc. is a national nonprofit that is dedicated to helping more community college students, particularly low-income students and students of color, stay in school and earn a college certificate or degree. Evidence-based, student-centered, and built on the values of equity and excellence, Achieving the Dream is closing achievement gaps and accelerating student success nationwide by: 1) guiding evidence-based institutional improvement, 2) leading policy change, 3) generating knowledge, and 4) engaging the public. Conceived as an initiative in 2004 by Lumina Foundation and seven founding partner organizations, today, Achieving the Dream is leading the most comprehensive non-governmental reform network for student success in higher education history. With over 200 institutions, more than 100 coaches and advisors, and 15 state policy teams – working throughout 35 states and the District of Columbia– the Achieving the Dream National Reform Network helps more than 4 million community college students have a better chance of realizing greater economic opportunity and achieving their dreams.
About St. Petersburg College
St. Petersburg College (SPC) alumni rank first in the state of Florida for possessing the most valuable job skills. Founded in 1927, SPC is Florida’s first two-year college. Regionally accredited and nationally recognized, SPC was the first community college in Florida to offer bachelor’s degrees. SPC offers more than 100 degree and certificate programs, including many high-demand, high-skill industry-recognized workforce certifications. The college’s career-focused curriculum is created with input from industry experts to give students real-world skills needed to meet the needs of today’s employers.