Scholarship program to prepare students for future

Scholarship program Earn to Learn not only provides financial assistance to students, it prepares them for future endeavors by teaching critical financial skills and knowledge.

Earn to Learn is a matched-savings scholarship program that was established in 2013 and currently partners with Arizona State University, University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University.

The unique program uses a multi-investor strategy to fund higher education with the program’s participants as the lead investor in their own education.

It uses personal savings and public and private contributions to fund its efforts and put students on the path to postsecondary graduation.

“Earn to Learn can be described as a shared responsibility model, a multi-investor strategy to financing higher [education] or even a reduced borrowing initiative,” Earn to Learn founder and CEO Kate Hoffman said.

It is geared to help low-to-moderate-income students by combining student savings with scholarships, and it provides financial education and college success coaching to support students through graduation with little-to-no student debt.

The program’s annual overall freshman retention rate appears to be approaching 90 percent statewide, according to Hoffman.

“I like to think of Earn to Learn as one of the tools in the tool chest” Hoffman said. “But, this tool culminates in the students having greater financial confidence to navigate life on campus as well as navigate their future adult financial life once they successfully graduate and enter the Arizona workforce.”

She said, “I think students benefit from exposure to personal finance training and learning to build important savings habits as well the other financial components of the Earn to Learn model.”

Providing Earn to Learn students with financial skills and knowledge helps prepare them for life after their postsecondary education.

“We’re not just trying to build a pipeline into higher [education], we’re really trying to build a pipeline into the Arizona workforce,” Hoffman said.

Earn to Learn participants are on track to enter the workforce with a degree, financial knowledge and community partners.

“We’ve surveyed the students in Earn to Learn and I think they really do ultimately upon graduation from higher education, I think they really do want to stay in Arizona,” Hoffman said. “This is where their families are, communities are, and I think that’s really exciting because there’s a lot of interest from the business sector to retain talent in the state.”

Earn to Learn currently serves students at the university level, but it plans to expand to Maricopa Community College District and Pima Community College.

“We’ve had very preliminary conversations with the Maricopa Community College system and Pima Community College about the possibility of what it might look like to expand the program to the community college level,” Hoffman explained.

She said, “That would allow us to serve students whether they were on the four-year path, the two-year path or even potentially pursuing CTE (Career and Technical Education).”

Sierra Ciaramella

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