Valencia College’s Financial Literacy Program Nationally Recognized

Valencia College’s Financial Learning Ambassadors program has been recognized as one of the best programs for helping students avoid student loan debt. In a recently released report by uAspire, experts cited the learning ambassadors program for helping to reduce the college’s loan default rate.

“We are honored to have our program highlighted as a national model,” said Daniel Barkowitz, Valencia College’s assistant vice president of financial aid and veterans’ Affairs. “Our Financial Learning Ambassador Program, ably led by Ilia Cordero, has made a difference in the lives and futures of our Valencia students and alumni, and we continue to work hard to ensure that financial literacy is part of our overall focus on wellness.”

Led by students, this peer-to-peer financial literacy education program helps students reduce “indirect expenses.” These indirect expenses, including educational materials but also personal expenses such as rent or transportation, often lead to increased default rates on students loans, a costly economic consequence for many students before they even enter the workforce.

Through this program, the advisors help educate students on credit cards, student loans and money management. As a result of their work, loan default rates decreased from 18.8 percent when the program began in 2009, to 6.8 percent in 2019.

In 2009, Cordero, assistant director of financial aid, led the implementation of the Financial Learning Ambassador (FLA) Program. This peer-to-peer financial literacy mentoring program was designed to educate students through their peers on money management. The pilot program was an amazing success, and in 2010, the college received a $25,000 grant from USA Funds to expand the program collegewide.

Since the program’s inception in 2009, several Financial Aid Specialists at the college have stepped into dual roles by becoming Financial Learning Advisors in addition to their current work responsibilities, to mentor and empower student ambassadors.

This year, 10 Valencia Financial Aid Specialists recently completed their training to become Financial Learning Advisors, and help train more ambassadors throughout the college. Their newfound skills will help them guide our student ambassadors to develop a financially responsible mindset that they can use to empower their peers and foster a life-long road to financial success.

To read the full report, please visit: (Go to page 48 to read the Valencia College report.)