The Pell Institute publishes research and analyses that address equal educational opportunity, particularly the outcomes for low-income, first-generation, and disabled students. Additional publications include occasional papers, policy briefs, and an electronic newsletter.

Institutional Policy Brief — Financial Education in TRIO Programs (.pdf)

September 2009

To address some of the financial challenges facing low-income students, federal policymakers enacted a provision in the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) that makes financial literacy a required service of all TRIO programs (or, in the case of McNair, simply makes permissible). Effective August 2008, these programs started offering financial education to the students they serve. The President’s Advisory Council on Financial Literacy (2008) defines financial education as “the process by which people improve their understanding of financial products, services and concepts, so they are empowered to make informed choices, avoid pitfalls, know where to go for help and take other actions to improve their present and long-term financial well-being.” Given this new federal mandate, it is critical that TRIO professionals become more knowledgeable about financial education programming. For administrators looking to create or refine their financial education curricula, we believe the information contained in this policy brief may prove useful. Presented in this brief are answers to the following questions concerning financial education in TRIO programs:

  • How many TRIO programs offer financial education and what topics are covered?
  • Is financial education a mandatory or optional component within each TRIO program and when do students usually take it?
  • Who teaches financial education in TRIO programs and what delivery method do they use?
  • What type of financial education curriculum do instructors use?
  • Do TRIO program directors evaluate student learning and program effectiveness?