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Benefits Access for College Completion

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  1. Benefits Access for College Completion Abby Newcomer, Policy Analyst, CLASP Shellie Baker, BACC Project Director, Gateway Community and Technical College National Council for Workforce Education October 21, 2012

  2. CLASP and the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success Through careful research and analysis and effective advocacy, CLASP develops and promotes new ideas, mobilizes others, and directly assists governments and advocates to put in place successful strategies that deliver results that matter to people across America. • C-PES advocates for better policies, more investment, and increased political will to increase the number of low-income adults and disadvantaged youth who earn postsecondary credentials that are essential to opening doors to good jobs, career advancement, and economic mobility. 

  3. American Association of Community Colleges • AACC • Primary advocacy organization for the nation’s community colleges • Represents approximately 1,200 two-year, associate degree–granting institutions and over 13 million students • Center for Workforce and Economic Development • Helps community colleges collaborate with workforce boards, economic development entities, labor market intermediaries, and other community organizations to drive workforce and economic opportunity.

  4. Overview • The Challenge • The Initiative: Benefits Access for College Completion • Gateway Community and Technical College Plan • Discussion

  5. Rationale

  6. Financial need contributes in many ways to failure to complete Too many hours of paid work Failure to complete Too little sleep Financial Need Too little studying Stress Poor grades Housing and food insecurity Part-time enrollment

  7. Rationale • Even after financial aid, unmet need is a significant contributor to low-income and nontraditional students’ failure to complete college successfully. Reasons for leaving school

  8. Benefits Access for College Completion • An initiative geared toward increasing access to public benefits for community college students • Supporting colleges developing sustainable models that build benefits access into the everyday activities across of the college BACC is a partnership between CLASP, the American Association of Community Colleges and five foundations

  9. Seven colleges participating in the implementation phase of BACC • Cuyahoga Community College (OH) • Gateway Community and Technical College (KY) • LaGuardia Community College (NY) • Lake Michigan College (MI) • Macomb Community College (MI) • Northampton Community College (PA) • Skyline College (CA) 

  10. Hypothesis Providing students who are struggling to make ends meet with information about public benefits and assistance in applying for them will improve student success and college completion rates and reduce material hardship.

  11. What are “public benefits”? • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) • Health insurance (Medicaid and CHIP) • Family programs • TANF, child care subsidies, Women, Infants and Children (WIC) food and formula, free and reduced school lunch • Refundable Tax Credits • Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) & American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) • Special programs • Disability benefits, Veterans benefits, Unemployment Insurance (UI), Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), Workforce Investment Act (non-Title II)

  12. Public benefits can fill the gap Source: Economic Policy Institute, “State of Working America,”

  13. Why don’t more students access public benefits? • Lack of information or misinformation about eligibility • Don’t know that programs exist • Think they are not eligible • Don’t know how to apply or where to get help • Feel the benefit is not worth the hassle • Don’t see themselves as target for public benefit programs • Applying is often time • consuming, frustrating • Same information collected multiple times • Need documentation of income, • family status • Stigma and other social/ cultural barriers

  14. How can colleges help eligible students access public benefits? • Inform students about the existence of programs • Help students understand how to apply • Screen students to determine if they are eligible and assist them to apply • Assiststudents to provide needed documentation and understand any barriers to eligibility • Follow-upwith benefits programs/local offices to troubleshoot on behalf of individual students • Advocate for policy changes that streamline benefits receipt for students

  15. BACC College Strategy Highlights • Include benefits in discussions about financial aid • Integrate a module about benefits into financial literacy curriculum, or in orientation or student success courses • Develop a process for engaging students that includes: • Reaching out to students in multiple ways • Setting up places to apply depending on student needs • Helping students apply and submit documentation • Providing follow-up assistance students receive benefits • Where available, use online eligibility screeners and online applications to assist students • Engage a broad based team to embed activities across college

  16. Gateway Community and Technical College Benefits Access to College Completion

  17. OUR MISSION Gateway Community and Technical College provides high quality, affordable, accessible, and inclusive postsecondary education and training resulting in a positive contribution to the economic vitality of the region and enhanced quality of life for all citizens.

  18. Purpose of Initiative Gateway recognizes that many students are forced to dropout of college due to financial burdens.  This project seeks to explore access to public benefits as a potential strategy for keeping students in college in order to successfully complete a credential.  This strategy increases the usage of public benefits in the short-term, but with the ultimate purpose of creating longer-term self-sufficiency through college completion and increased opportunities for higher-paying careers.

  19. Need for initiative

  20. Need for initiative • 75% of Gateway students report incomes at or below 150% of poverty level indicating a higher risk of dropping out of college due to financial reasons. • 90% of Gateway students are eligible for Federal Pell Grants designed to help low-income individuals gain access to postsecondary education.

  21. Plan for initiative

  22. Plan for initiative • Start with Five Cohorts at the College • Student Support Services • Federal TRIO Grant to support low-income, first-generation college students to increase retention, completion, and transfer. • Health Professions Opportunity Grant (HPOG) • Grant program to fund Allied Health programs and offer support services for K-TAP and other low-income individuals.

  23. Plan for initiative • Accelerating Opportunities • Provides team teaching and basic skills as they relate to succeeding in technical courses. • LinC • Re-LinC supports previous Learning in Community (LinC) students in reflective learning • Ready to Work & Work and Learn • Career counseling, networking, assistance with childcare, and other services to KTAP eligible students

  24. Plan for initiative • Professional Development • Comprehensive plan is created to equip staff and faculty with the appropriate type and level of training to provide access to benefits and transitional planning • Cabinet for Health and Family Services is key partner • Educates key staff and faculty about policies and process for access to public benefits • Provides appropriate levels of training to engage in benefits access, screening activities, and transitional plans

  25. Plan for initiative • Integration of Screening, Access, and Transition • Incorporated as a routine college function • Training Cohorts • Provides multiple delivery options • Establish Five Cohorts • Incorporating in emergency funds at college • Counseling Department • Expanding to other departments (ex. VA, Adult Ed)

  26. Plan for initiative • Offers access through a variety of momentum points identified through the gap analysis • Includes the full continuum of screening, access, and transition that follows the student through the entire Gateway experience • Access Resource Tool (ART) • Electronic Application Repository System (EARS) • Improves college retention and completion rates • Data Merge with Dept. of Community Based Services

  27. Plan for initiative • Scaling and sustaining • Identifies effective strategies to integrate public benefit screening, access, and transition activities as routine college functions • Explores online benefit application system for community college students • Provides feedback on access strategies in relation to improved retention and completion • Scales project to 15 other Kentucky community colleges

  28. Challenges • Getting students in the door: Providing public benefits is new for the college, and receiving it from college staff is new for students. • Overcoming resistance to applying: Helping students understand that public benefits are available and intended to assist them. • Receiving buy-in from leadership and employees:Faculty and staff are looking for ways to assist students to make ends meet but don’t have time.

  29. Getting Started • Identify the need on your campus • Seek out individuals on campus and in the community already doing this work • Identify existing resources in your state or county that could help students (i.e. online screening tools or applications) • Seek buy-in from leadership • Form a committed team • Resources:,

  30. Thank you! For more information: Abby Newcomer 202-906-8009 Shellie Baker