A new report outlines how community colleges can improve retention and completion rates for Latino students — in particular, through targeted financial counseling and assistance.
The report, “Supporting Latino Community College Students: an Investment in Our Economic Future,” was conducted by the advocacy group Excelencia in Education and the program, Single Stop USA.
Excelencia focuses on efforts that build Latino student success at colleges and universities.
Single Stop USA is a non-profit program offered on 17 community college campuses. Eight of the Single Stop sites are Hispanic-serving institutions (where the full-time student population is at least 25 percent Latino), which are predominantly in New York. The program provides student services such as financial and legal counseling, and assistance with taxes.
The report makes several key suggestions.
It suggests that policymakers should use the Higher Education Act reauthorization to provide incentives to colleges to improve student services that encourage retention and completion of degrees. In addition, colleges should create very targeted strategies to better inform Latino and low-income students about financial aid opportunities.
The report also describes how Single Stop works. The program is usually housed in a community college’s office of financial aid or student services. A site coordinator interviews the student and then determines what sorts of benefits may be able to assist the student with staying enrolled. Assistance could include public health insurance, food stamps, legal services and tax services.
The report describes how Julio, a 23-year-old student at Miami Dade College studying architectural design living with his father, used the services of Single Stop to apply for food stamps, Medicaid and disability for his family.
According to the report, about 55 percent of Latino students who have been helped through the program receive aid with preparing their taxes, 23 percent with public benefits, 13 percent with financial counseling, and 10 percent with legal services.
The HSIs that Single Stop serves are Contra Costa College, Miami Dade College, Central New Mexico Community College, CUNY Bronx Community College, CUNY Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY Hostos Community College, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, and CUNY Queensborough Community College.