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Two MC Staffers Use Grant Funding to Boost Financial Literacy

Montgomery College Staff and Students
GetLit! Financial Literacy Program students with guest lecturer, Alan Sorcher, SEC attorney, and program founders Mia Price and Natasha Sacks. The 8-week program teaches students how to manage their finances, set goals, recognize scams, and more.

Financial education remains a challenge nationally. Surveys show only one-third of American adults have a working understanding of interest rates, mortgage rates, and financial risk. In 2010 the Maryland State Board of Education instituted regulations requiring school systems to provide personal financial literacy in public schools (elementary, middle, and high school). Without specifics on how to implement it, however, comprehensive financial education remains elusive. 

“We still have students coming to MC with no financial literacy understanding,” said Mia Price, student life specialist. “How does a student build financial security when they don’t know the first thing about investing or managing money? How do they learn about the banking system, the importance of good credit, or budgeting if they don’t learn it at home or in school? … And how will they succeed—even with a college degree or workplace skills—if they do not learn the essentials of money management?”  

Price and her colleague, Natasha Sacks, Lifelong Learning Institute program manager, developed a free course for MC students interested in learning the basics of personal finance. Funded for one fall and one spring semester class through an Innovation Fund grant, the GetLit! Financial Literacy Program provides practical, hands-on lessons in money management, financial planning, banking (checking and savings, earnings, profits, loans) and investment, credit scores, insurance, and more. 

The eight-week program was first offered last fall at the Takoma Park/Silver Spring Campus with 23 students enrolled. Faculty instructor Damian Francis, part-time instructor, WDCE Personal Finance Program, led the program. Guest speakers contributed for special sessions, including an SEC attorney Alan Sorcher, assistant director, Office of Investor Education and Advocacy, United States Securities and Exchange Commission (investments); Beverly Coleman, director, MC Educational Opportunity Center and Jimmy Nguyen, MC recruitment officer (financial aid/scholarships/educational loans). The final class was a session on car buying. 

“Super useful,” said Maulika Masson, a biological sciences major, about the program. “I learned how to make smart money decisions, manage my finances, set achievable goals, and spot scams. … It is also shaping my long-term plans, especially in investing and figuring out future earnings. As a student aiming for med school, I am using what I have learned about financial aid and college finances to plan strategically.” 

Nardos Hailemariam, a computer science major, said she gained a more positive outlook on the future after learning strategies for saving, establishing an emergency fund, and working toward future financial goals. “The discussions on investing were presented in a clear and accessible manner. I gained confidence in making informed investment decisions and diversifying my portfolio for long-term growth.” 

The 15 students who attended every session and completed the program received a $150 stipend direct to their student account. The funds were an incentive for them because the course was offered without credit and required time and attention during their normal semester course work.  

Financial Literacy Program Flyer

The pilot program’s second (and final) session starts March 5 at the Rockville Campus. The program’s future depends on funding. Price hopes to find additional grant or donor funding that would allow the College to continue offering it, and to adapt it, if needed, so more students can receive the instruction alongside their other academic activities.  

“We want to continue encouraging students to take more control of their lives with this very practical information—especially those who have been historically marginalized. Without financial literacy, you suffer greatly and you have to learn the hard way. If you are prepared, you will flourish,” Price said.  

To support this program/learn more, contact