A digital financial education intervention on financial well-being among college students

Last registered on March 21, 2023


Trial Information

General Information

A digital financial education intervention on financial well-being among college students
Initial registration date
March 21, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
March 21, 2023, 4:58 PM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.



Primary Investigator

Sejong University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Pepperdine University
PI Affiliation

Additional Trial Information

Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
We designed a digital educational intervention to improve money management practices and financial well-being among college students, where we delivered weekly nudges for three months via mobile phone and email to review and complete activities from the online platform CashCourse. We evaluated our intervention using a randomized controlled trial (RCT) and the outcome variables of interest are the financial self-efficacy scale (FSES) and financial health score (FHS).

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Blanco, Luisa, Anna Choi and Derek Stoutland. 2023. "A digital financial education intervention on financial well-being among college students." AEA RCT Registry. March 21. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11127-1.0
Experimental Details


Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes for analysis are the financial health score (FHS, from 0 to 100) developed by the Financial Health Network (FHN, formerly known as Center for Financial Services Innovation) and the financial self-efficacy scale (FSES). The FSES was created using responses from participants to 6 different statements following Lown (2011)
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
The FHS is an average score of 8 different questions on how one saves, spends, borrows, and plans in terms of their finances and savings. Maximum score for each question is 100 and the average FHS among the full sample was 64.7. The FHS answers are commonly grouped in the following way: lowest score (0 to 39) in “Vulnerable” category, middle (40 to 79) in “coping” category, and the highest score (80 to 100) in “healthy” category.
The statements reflected how respondents manage different financial issues and deal with unexpected situations related to finances. We adjusted the statement from the original scale to be more applicable to college students instead of those close to retirement. Participants responded to each statement in a Likert-scale, where answers are as follows: 1: not true at all, 2: hardly true, 3: moderately true, and 4: exactly true. Higher scores reflected higher levels of financial self-efficacy. The FSES ranges from 6 to 24.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
We recruited both undergraduate and graduate students attending a private university in the U.S. in the fall semester of 2019. Interested participants signed up for the study online. We collected the data through an online survey via Qualtrics, where an individual link was sent to participant’s email. A total of 158 (Control: 78 and Treatment: 80) students accepted the informed consent to participate in the study. The baseline survey was sent on the last week of September of 2019 to both the control and treatment groups. The treatment group had three monthly surveys from October to December of 2019. During this period, participants in the treatment group received weekly text messages and emails with information to complete activities in the CashCourse platform with the purpose to learn about personal finance and money management strategies. The treatment group received our intervention in months 1-3, and the wait-list control group received the intervention in months 4-6 of the study. Taking this research design allowed us to collect data at baseline and at 3 months among treatment and control group and compared our outcome variables to evaluate the impact of our intervention pre and post intervention.

Participants in the control group did not receive any learning materials in the first three months of the study. At three months, for the survey covering the month of December, control group participants received the 1st monthly survey without receiving the CashCourse learning materials. The data collected in December of 2019 was what we used to compare treatment and control groups to evaluate the impact of our program.

We also collected qualitative data to develop a better understanding of our participants experience with the program so that this can inform the design of future digital programs on financial education among college students. Given that the last survey data we collected among our participants was in the end of March and early April of 2020, we saw the opportunity to gather qualitative data to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on college students’ personal finances and financial stress.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
randomization done in office by a computer
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
A total of 158 (Control: 78 and Treatment: 80) participants completed the baseline survey
Sample size: planned number of observations
158 students
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
(Control: 78 and Treatment: 80 students)
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Pepperdine University IRB
IRB Approval Date
Details not available
IRB Approval Number


Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials