Research Study of Austin Community College’s Rainy Day Savings Program

Date

2021-08

Authors

Patnaik, Ashweeta
Cumpton, Greg

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Publisher

Ray Marshall Center for the Study of Human Resources, The University of Texas at Austin

Abstract

Austin Community College’s (ACC) Student Money Management Office (SMMO), established in 2016, supports Austin Community College student success by providing accessible and relevant money management education, enabling students to make informed financial decisions.

In fall 2018, SMMO piloted the Rainy Day Savings Program, modeled after the successes of Individual Development Accounts (IDAs) which have helped low-income people save and attain assets. In the Rainy Day Savings program, students earn up to $100 in cash incentives for completing certain tasks and meeting milestones. These tasks and milestones were chosen because of their potential impact on future financial wellness, such as setting up direct deposit, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), and meeting with a financial coach. Savings accounts were opened for students at University Federal Credit Union (UFCU) exclusively for the purposes of the Rainy Day Savings Program, and students worked towards amassing at least $500 savings.

Based on the initial results, ACC viewed this program as a tool to increase student retention and completion and sought to expand and refine the program. ACC received funding from Trellis Foundation in January 2020 to support this effort. ACC enrolled approximately 600 students in the Rainy Day Savings Program in fall 2020. Enrollment focused on two key student groups: First-time in college (FTIC) and Adult Education (AE) students. The program helped students establish a savings account at a local financial institution and provided cash incentives as they set aside money for a financial emergency.

ACC is partnering with the Ray Marshall Center (RMC) to study the effectiveness of the Rainy Day Savings program. This research study will provide actionable information about the success of the intervention allowing for ACC and Trellis to make decisions about and program modifications and sustainability.

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