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financial aid

Available financial aid covers only a fraction of what community college students pay for their education.  To finance their studies, many of them enroll in school only part time and/or work more than 20 hours per week, strategies that increase their likelihood of dropping out. To help address this problem, this report highlights strategies adopted by higher education institutions to increase the financial resources of their students. The practices outlined either help students access existing financial aid or provide students with new types of aid. 

PROPOSALS OUTLINED:

  • Helping students access available financial aid by providing one-on-one assistance with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid; mandating that students meet with academic and financial aid counselors; and, implementing student-centered financial aid administration practices.
  • Allocating institutional grants on the basis of need so that students can meet their financial obligations, work less, and focus more on their studies.
  • Developing emergency aid programs that have flexible eligibility criteria, simple application and approval processes, are advertised widely and link students to other financial services.
  • Easing the cost of transportation for students by negotiating discounts with public transportation systems and offering transportation subsidies.
  • Centralizing access to other forms of financial support. Given the income and demographic characteristics of community college students, a substantive number of them may be eligible for federal and state benefit programs (such as food stamps, tax credits, etc) that could help them obtain the financial resources they need to stay in school. Some community colleges help students access this aid by creating a “one-stop shop” on campus for all benefits.
  • Helping students access health insurance by creating consortiums among colleges to purchase affordable and comprehensive health insurance for students; incorporating the cost of health insurance in total expenses for uninsured students; and creating student health centers on campus.
2011
Viany Orozco & Lucy Mayo
Demos

Due to low wages, lack of benefits, and inconsistent employment, many workers are unable to meet their own and their families' basic needs through employment alone. The Annie E. Casey Foundation developed the Center for Working Families® (CWF) concept as a response to the challenges facing such low-income working adults and their families. The CWF approach revolves around offering clients a set of focused bundled services in three overlapping areas:

  • Employment and career advancement - including assistance with job readiness, job placement, occupational skills training, education and career advancement.
  • Income enhancements and work supports - helping clients gain access to public benefits, tax credits, financial aid and other benefits to improve their financial security.
  • Financial and asset building services - workshops, classes, one-on-one counseling and access to well-priced financial products and services to help clients improve their household finances and build assets.

A key aspect of the CWF model is that  programs bundle and sequence services rather than offering just one component, or offering multiple components but leaving it up to participants to discover and seek out additional services. Delivering integrated services requires well-planned program design, the hiring and training of staff with strong skills and backgrounds, and the thoughtful use of technology and data collection. In 2010, the Annie E. Casey Foundation asked CLASP to conduct a scan of federal programs that could potentially be used to support integrated service delivery in these three areas, recognizing the need to access public funds in order to bring this approach to scale. The Federal Funding Integrated Service Delivery Toolkit describe the federal funding programs we identified, with a focus on the components of the integrated strategy that might be publicly supported, the eligible populations and use of funds, and possible issues that might arise.

2011
Elizabeth Lower-Basch and Abigail Newcomer
Center for Law and Social Policy

This document provides guidance on the Food Stamp Employment and Training Program (FSET), including who may be served and how the funds can be used for workforce development.

2008
The Workforce Alliance

This letter is to encourage states to broaden their definition of approved training for Unemployment Insurance (UI) beneficiaries, to notify them of their potential eligibility for Pell Grants and other student aid, and to help individuals apply for Pell Grants through One-Stop Career Centers.

2009
U.S. Department of Labor

This letter provides guidance to Financial Aid Administrators on their use of professional judgment in recalculating financial aid for dislocated workers. (May 2009)

2009
U.S. Department of Education

This brief describes a new policy allowing students without a high school diploma or GED to qualify for federal student aid if they successfully complete six credits in lieu of passing an Ability-to-Benefit test. Basic skills bridge programs could be designed to help students earn the critical six credits.

*July 1, 2001: Please note, the recent Pell regulation changes have eliminated the Ability-to-Benefit option. We are keeping this resource in the Virtual Academy for historical purposes*

2011
Julie Strawn
Center for Law and Social Policy

This brief looks at how states can increase access to college for working adults by strengthening their state financial aid policies. It documents the gap between the need for financial aid and what states and federal agencies provide, and it highlights states with exemplary programs. It makes a series of recommendations for state policymakers and groups wishing to retool their financial aid programs to better serve low-income adults.

2007
Derek V. Price and Brandon Roberts
The Working Poor Families Project

Guide for low-income adults enrolling in college or other postsecondary training on public benefit options that may be available.

2010
Deborah Harris, Staff Attorney, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute and Ruth J. Liberman, Vice President of Public Policy
Crittenton Women’s Union