U.S. Agency Taps CNM for Study

September 24, 2013 -- CNM is one of two institutions in the country selected to participate in a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services study evaluating what motivates people to save money.
July 16, 2015


The study will be seeking 600 students to participate, 300 of which will be randomly selected to participate in a matching savings program. For every dollar the 300 students save, it will be matched with $4 in an Individual Development Account (IDA). The 300 students selected for the IDAs can save up to $1,000, which would be matched with $4,000 for a total savings of $5,000. Interested students must participate in upcoming orientation sessions that begin this week and meet several requirements.

For the past five years, CNM has had the matched savings program for students, called the Suncat Savings Challenge. Every dollar the student saved has been matched with $4 – $2 raised by the CNM Foundation and $2 from the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. This year, however, there was funding for only 20 students.

The Suncat Savings Challenge is about to receive a major boost to increase the number of participants to 300 by next spring, says Ann Lyn Hall, executive director of CNM Connect. CNM Connect oversees the Suncat Savings Challenge. CNM partners with Prosperity Works to operate the program.

Only half of the people eligible for the program will be selected to receive the matching funds. The others will participate in the research study, but will not be eligible to open a matched savings account.

“This is a random assignment research study,” Hall said. “Once it is determined that a person is eligible for the program, a computer will randomly assign the individual to either a program group where the participant can get an Individual Development Account (IDA) and receive the matching funds, or a control group where the person won’t get a matched savings account. Then participants' actions will be monitored to see if matching funds play a role in how much the individual saves (on their own).”

To qualify for the matching grant under the Suncat Savings Challenge, a student must be enrolled in six or more credit hours at CNM, be at least 16 years old, have earned income, be 200 percent or below the national poverty level and have no more than $10,000 worth of assets other than one house and one car.

Documents needed to determine eligibility include verification of household income, verification documents determining net worth, New Mexico residency and age.

CNM had to apply to participate in the study. The review involved a site visit by two research organizations and determination that the college agreed with the random assignment selection process. Also, HHS wanted to make sure that the target audience would be applicable to other communities.

Participating students must save for a minimum of six months. CNM Achievement Coaches will work with the students to determine the purpose of the savings – for example to pay for education, start a small business or buy a house. After the amount of desired savings is established, a time frame for saving will be determined.

In order to be part of the program, students must take a three credit hour financial literacy class (FIN1010).

Hall said CNM was selected for the study because HHS knew “we had the capacity to scale up rapidly and that the program could be replicated by other programs nationally.”

CNM’s Institutional Review Board, which must determine that any research involving students is ethical and moral, has given the savings challenge study its approval.

For more information on the study or Suncat Savings Challenge, contact Chioma Heim at 224-4080 or cheim2@cnm.edu.

Orientation sessions have been scheduled to inform students about the study. Students must register in advance for the sessions by going to this site. The orientation dates and locations include:

Week One

  • Wednesday, Sept. 25 --- Main campus 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept.– Main campus 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Sept. 28 – Main campus 10 a.m., 11 a.m.

Week Two

  • Wednesday, Oct. 2 – Westside 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 3 – South Valley 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.

Week Three

  • Wednesday, Oct. 30 --- Main campus 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Oct. 31 – Main campus 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.
  • Saturday, Nov. 2 – Main campus 10 a.m., 11 a.m.

Week Four

  • Wednesday, Nov.  6 – Montoya 10:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, November 7 – Westside 9:30 a.m., 2 p.m., 4 p.m.

Week Five

  • Wednesday, Nov. 13 – Main 10:30 a.m., 3 p.m.
  • Thursday, Nov. 14 – Main 9:30 a.m.