Research and Evaluation

CFS works with a range of organizations to research financial issues affecting households.

Highlighted below are some current and recent projects:

Image result for social security administrationUW-Madison CFS Retirement & Disability Research Center

Nov. 2018 –

Social Security Administration

Building on the strengths of its affiliates and partners, the Center for Financial Security at the University of Wisconsin–Madison has been awarded a five-year cooperative agreement with the Social Security Administration’s Retirement and Disability Research Consortium. The Retirement and Disability Research Center is an applied research program which develops evidence that can assist policymakers, the public, and the media in understanding issues in Social Security, retirement, and disability policy.

FINMed: Designing Strategies to Manage Out of Pocket Costs

2017 – 2019

MetLife Foundation

The report introduces a new intervention called “FINMed.” FINMed is brief, solution-focused financial coaching session designed for people facing new ongoing out-of-pocket medical expenses or a pattern of problems paying for ongoing health care needs. This reports present research into the relationship between household financial behaviors and the ability to pay for out-of-pocket medical expenses, particularly prescription drugs. Overall, households struggling to manage their finances appear more likely to skip medical treatments due to cost. In turn, failing to follow through on a medical treatment can lead to higher costs and worsening health status.

MCE_logo_220My Classroom Economy: Developing Life-Long Financial Capability through Experiential Learning for Elementary Students 

9/30/14 – 9/30/16

U.S. Department of the Treasury

My Classroom Economy is a simulated economy designed to increase the financial capability of elementary school students. Fourth and 5th grade students practice making decisions about spending and saving while learning about the consequences of their choices in real time in their classrooms. CFS is working with the School District of Palm Beach County, the 12th largest school district in the U.S. in terms of student enrollment, this program will be implemented in September 2015.

treasuryBorrow$mart: A Field Study of an Online Financial Capability Tool’s Effects on the Schooling and Financing Decisions of Private-Sector College Students 

9/30/14 – 2/28/16

U.S. Department of the Treasury

This project studies the role of online financial counseling for college students who are at high risk of problems in the student loan market. Borrow$mart will yield new insights into strategies for using technology-based tools to assist people in making more informed choices regarding higher education financing and student loan debt. The main goal is to increase college student retention and graduation rates.

CFED_logoFinancial Well-Being Metrics
Corporation for Enterprise Development/Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

1/8/14 – 6/30/15

This is a multi-method project with the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED) on behalf of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that seeks to define financial well-being and identify its drivers for working-age and older Americans and to determine the antecedents of these drivers in youth (ages 3 to 20).  The project includes an in-depth review of the literature, field scans, and large-scale qualitative studies involving interviews with consumers, practitioners, and experts from a variety of fields such as developmental psychology, family and consumer science, financial education, and youth marketing.

Logo_of_the_New_York_City_Department_of_Parks_&_Recreation.svgAssessing Financial Capability Outcomes (AFCO)

U.S. Department of the Treasury/Corporation for Enterprise Development

1/11/11 – 3/27/14

Parks Opportunity Program Direct Deposit Evaluation

This study measures the impacts of financial counseling on the bank account use and financial stability of individuals offered low-risk checking accounts and direct deposit of their paychecks as part of their participation in a transitional employment program, the NYC Parks Opportunity Program.  The study was funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury and supported by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.  The results of this study show that integrating access to financial products and services is feasible at scale. The study saw a high take-up rate of bank accounts, which suggests that unbanked participants had a strong desire to become banked and would take advantage of an opportunity if offered an account that had agreeable terms and was easy to open.  Results suggest that embedding financial product offers and financial counseling into public programs can be an effective way to promote financial access and financial capability.

my-budget-coachMyBudgetCoach: Identifying Effective uses of Technology in Financial Coaching

Ohio Benefit Bank/Solutions for Progress

11/1/13 – 1/31/16

The MyBudgetCoach project, being implemented by the Ohio Benefit Bank and Solutions for Progress, Inc., seeks to assess the effectiveness of a twelve-month budget coaching program administered through an online interface.  This study uses a randomized research design to analyze the MyBudgetCoach (MyBC) interface in two contexts: 1) Remote- the use of MyBC as a standalone tool with all coaching sessions occurring remotely via screen sharing and phone, and 2) In-Person- the use of MyBC in combination with in-person coaching meetings.  The project is funded by the Center for Financial Services Innovation.