Financial Aid and Counseling Increase Community College Completion

In a recent New York Times article, experts conclude that an academic post-secondary experience may not be for everyone and that for some youth, vocational training might be a better fit. While access to and preparation for college remain important goals for many youth, Bob Lerman suggests that more emphasis should be put on high school, post-secondary, and apprenticeship programs to give some options to youth who do not pursue college but still must be prepared to enter the workforce. Community colleges are one place that offers vocational training programs.
While enrollment in such programs has gone up in recent years, however, an article in The Future of Children’s issue on Transition to Adulthood points out that many students struggle to stay in school and attain degrees and certificates. Students often face competing pressures on their time, such as work and family obligations, and these institutions often lack adequate resources to support such students.
More research needs to be done on how to best assist students, but a couple areas that seem promising are better, more personal counseling and more effective provision of financial aid. Early results from a randomized control trial of struggling students at a community college in California showed that a mandatory program on skills such as time management and note-taking coupled with counseling and tutoring requirements boosted academic performance and course credits earned. Some less rigorous evaluations also suggest that individualized programs helping students adjust to the demands of community college increased their success.
Financial aid studies have looked at both sources providing money upon enrollment and those offering stipends as rewards for achievement once in school. Recent legislation has increased the maximum size of Pell grants, federal payments toward education based on family need. However, application for these grants and other student aid requires the FAFSA, a complicated financial form. . A recent study offered randomly selected families help completing the form, and students in these families were more likely to enroll in college and received larger financial aid packages. This suggests that simplification of, and assistance with this process could benefit families for whom finances are a major obstacle for secondary education.
Other programs have looked into how to keep students in school and improve their performance while there. Scientifically rigorous trials at a community college in Louisiana and a four-year public university in Canada showed significant improvements in grades and persistence when students were offered financial benefits conditional on maintaining reasonably high grades. These suggest a reward system could keep students on the path toward certificate or diploma completion.

Many more students are enrolling in higher education programs, particular community colleges, than have in the past. The skills taught and certificates and degrees obtained can increase their earnings and employability, particularly if they stay in school longer. New evaluations continue to provide insight into how to further these goals, but we can start by offering more support services and simplifying the financial aid process.

8 thoughts on “Financial Aid and Counseling Increase Community College Completion

  1. James

    One of the things I’m noticing is a lack of financial aid for highly important but overlooked problems with youths, including STD checkups.

    I wrote a blog about a certain type of treatment started by some young guys who saw this problem coming a mile away and as a result have been extremely successful with their venture. The product is called Wartrol.

    This area I believe is going to be of a huge significance for college students in the near future.

  2. margaret kimnan

    Our children should be given all the opportunities available so that they will have a chance to survive in this increasingly highly competitive environment.

  3. Jake Clopton

    financial aid increases community college completion, yeah but how many of these people are serious about a career. I’ve seen so many people in Chicago who are in their 40’s and use community college as a way to stay on welfare

  4. Tia

    It would be nice for families to receive a bit more help filling out the FAFSA, and it would also be good if the FAFSA organization did a better job at helping independent students. If parents don’t file their taxes on time, it shouldn’t adversely affect a student whose parents won’t be paying for their college in the first place.

  5. John

    We need to do everything we can to assure our children all have access to a good education in this unceasingly competitive global economy.

  6. School-Grants

    I dont think the Pell grant is worth much towards a students education unless they enrol in a community college and recieve scholarships. The pell used to be worth more 6 years ago agains tuition fees, but colleges are hiking up their fees which means the pell has less impact on reducing student debt.

  7. Jordan Walker

    I think that is refreshing news, it would be paramount if more people could have access to quality education!

  8. friend

    In my opinion universitary studies are too long in time. Maybe with traning inside university, student´s dont´need to expend long time after university.

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