Financial Tools to Build Retention: A Look at How to Improve Financial Literacy for Students at Texas A&M University-Commerce

Date of Award


Degree Name

Ed.D. in Educational Leadership


Department of Educational Administration


James Olive


Financial literacy is a tool necessary for navigating adulthood, often overlooked when preparing students for college decision-making. Despite the lack of preparation, research indicates financial issues as one of the most significant concerns for student retention, affecting first-generation and minority students the most. The purpose of this study is to improve the financial literacy of first-year students at Texas A&M University-Commerce, a mid-sized institution with a majority-minority student population. This mixed-method action research study uses surveys and interviews to establish themes around the perceived financial literacy of students from a sample of first-year students, business faculty, and campus housing staff. The themes emerging from the analyses show a lack of knowledge and willingness to learn about the five chosen financial concepts and a need for progressive program-based education that includes campus-wide participation. The action plan resulting from the data analysis includes the implementation of expanding the current residential curriculum to include financial literacy learning outcomes. The residential curriculum process includes creating an interdepartmental task force including both faculty and staff, creating collaborative and progressive workshops, and meetings to collect and analyze data for the continual growth of the action plan. Success is based on student participation and feedback from surveys. Implementation of the first phase would take a minimum of two years. The first is to be used for development, and the second for a full cycle implementation. The budget for the implementation is low. Stakeholders involved in the task force will provide space and marketing for programs. The largest resource to manage is the time commitment of the faculty and staff implementing the action plan. This study involves a campus-wide process of understanding first-year students and their perspective on their financial literacy while developing a campus-wide method to address it. Challenges during this study include acquiring survey participation from students and faculty not participating because they believe their perspective was not valuable if they did not directly teach first-year students. The action plan can work, but support for the initiative must happen from the top down to keep the campus-wide community engaged to benefit the students fully.


Adult Education, Business Education, Continuing Education, Economics, Education, Education Policy, Educational Leadership, Secondary Education, Finance, first-year student financial literacy, financial literacy action research, college financial education, community based financial literacy program, financial education residential curriculum, TAMUC, first-year retention, economic education, college planning, financial programming

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