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.
- 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.