Personal Finance for Crime Fighters: CashCourse at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice

Students using CashCourse program

Thirty-year-old Cindy Chery enrolled at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in the heart of New York City because she wants to work in law enforcement.

“I never knew that [potential employers] would run credit checks on you,” says Chery.

Most of Chery’s peers don’t realize that either. “I have so many friends who are terrible with their finances and don’t understand basic things like saving or what a good credit score is,” says Chery.

John Jay students go on to work in law enforcement, criminology, forensics, and similar careers. Some even end up in top government agencies such as the FBI. But before they set out to battle the world’s injustice, these students must fight to get their finances under control.

Many of John Jay’s students are the first in their families to attend college and more than half of undergraduates are designated low income.

“[For] a lot of students who come to our school, college is their first opportunity and really their first job,” says Samuel Lopez, coordinator of Jay Express, a one-stop center for students who need help completing transactions on campus from admissions to financial aid.

“When these students get their first financial aid or work study check, they don’t know how to budget or save it,” says Lopez.

A senior college of the City University of New York (CUNY), John Jay began offering NEFE’s CashCourse program to its students five years ago. Lopez has seen a change in student behavior as a result of weekly personal finance workshops that use CashCourse as a resource.

“At first some of the students are nervous and don’t really believe that CashCourse will help them,” says Lopez, “But once they start budgeting and taking in the information, they encourage other students to sign up.”

In addition to the weekly in-person class, Lopez facilitates an online discussion forum where students pose questions to the group. Students commonly ask for clarification on topics such as the difference between credit and debit cards, solving debt issues, and advice about monitoring spending.

“The students help raise each other’s awareness about how to stretch their money further and how to budget ahead,” says Lopez.

“I tell my friends, ‘if you want to save money and learn about becoming financial independent, attend Mr. Lopez’s workshops,’” says Chery, who is majoring in criminal justice and minoring in psychology.

The students’ increased financial awareness also can help them land a job after graduation.

“Potential employers—especially law enforcement and government agencies—will look at the student’s finances, including their credit score, but also how much student loan debt the student has and whether they are in default,” Lopez says. “It is in the students’ interest to take charge of their finances while they are still in school.”

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]

Contacts

  • Paul Golden

    Media Relations Director

    Direct: 303-224-3514
    Cell: 303-918-3620
    [email protected]

  • Patricia (Pat) Seaman

    Senior Director of Marketing and Communications

    Direct: 303-224-3538
    [email protected]