Beyond issues of affordability, other policies are important when encouraging student persistence and program completion. These include using flexible course delivery options and offering a range of student success services, such as student engagement and support services.
Some of the promising state approaches to support student success and program completion include:
National Resources for State Policy Makers
The Price of Persistence: How Nonprofit-Community College Partnerships Manage and Blend Diverse Funding Streams. Maureen Conway. Aspen Institute. (2011).
More Guidance, Better Results? Three-Year Effects of an Enhanced Student Services Program at Two Community Colleges.
Building Illinois' Workforce of the Future: Recommendations for a Student Support System That Works.
This policy brief introduces a vision for an effective, world-class student support system that aims to improve graduation rates for low-income adult students. The brief offers specific policy and program recommendations for both community college leaders and state policymakers and includes national examples of effective programs.
Flexible Learning Options for Adult Students.
This report looks at innovative practices that offer adult learners more flexible access to postsecondary courses and help accelerate their progress through credential programs. The authors profile programs at community colleges, where most adult learners are enrolled, and conclude with strategies for addressing the barriers institutions face when developing and implementing programs targeted to adult learners.
Do Student Success Courses Actually Help Community College Students Succeed?
Promoting Student Success in Community Colleges by Increasing Support Services.
This policy brief summarizes how colleges and state policymakers can ensure that nontraditional students complete their educations. It offers a range of suggested policy improvements, including increasing and targeting funding for student success, requiring colleges to plan for student success, and aligning other state policies to finance student support services.
What Community College Management Practices Are Effective in Promoting Student Success? A Study of High- and Low-Impact Institutions.
In this study, the Community College Research Center examines community college effectiveness in increasing minority student success. It finds that the more successful colleges have the following characteristics: a general focus on student retention and graduation rather than just on enrollment, well-aligned and proactive student support services, use of experiments on how to improve student success, and use of student data to improve programs and services.
Paths to Persistence: An Analysis of Research on Program Effectiveness at Community Colleges.
This report provides an overview of research through 2005 in four key areas: advising, counseling, mentoring and orientation programs; learning communities; developmental education and other services for academically underprepared students; and college-wide reform. This information is then used to provide a helpful framework for thinking about community college practices aimed at increasing persistence and completion.
Support Success: Services That May Help Low-Income Students Succeed in Community College.
This report covers the wide variety of programs that help community college students succeed and gain credentials. It contains an overview of how colleges supported low-income students when the report was released in 2004. It examines high-leverage methods of providing support, highlights promising programs that employ these methods, and identifies the need and opportunities for additional services.
California Community Colleges Extended Opportunity Programs and Services and Cooperative Agencies Resources for Education, 2001-2002
State Policy Examples
Illinois Student Success Grant. Colleges used this flexible grant to fund a variety of services such as personal counseling, academic and career counseling, tutoring, testing and assessment, mentoring, and retention programs. (Note: This initiative is currently not operating due to budget cuts).
For more information see: Investing For Success: Educational Supports for Illinois Community College Students. Women Employed (2006).
Kentucky’s Ready-to-Work program. A partnership of the Kentucky Community and Technical College System and the state’s Temporary Assistance For Needy Families (TANF) agency, Ready-to-Work is designed to support the success of TANF students pursuing postsecondary education through college and career coaching, work-study jobs, and peer support.
Washington Opportunity Grants. These are aimed at increasing low-income student access to and success in earning postsecondary credentials at the associate degree level or below, including apprenticeship programs, in high-demand fields. Each year eligible students receive tuition and fees and up to $1,000 for books and supplies. Public colleges receive $1,500 per full-time equivalent (FTE) student in the Opportunity Grant program, which they must use to provide individualized student support services. Early results suggest that this package of financial aid and student success services is helping more students to persist and complete; outcomes are especially promising for part-time students.
Sources of State Data
Improving Lives: State and Federal Programs for Low-Income Adults. This American Council on Education database contains more than 400 state and federal programs that help low-income adults participate in postsecondary education. It is searchable by state and program type.
State Policy Inventory Database Online (SPIDO). This online database maintained by the Western Interstate Commission on Higher Education contains information on state higher education policies and resources pertaining to accelerated learning options, articulation and alignment, data and accountability systems, retention, remediation, residency, student financial aid and other incentives, and tuition and fees, among other topics. It is searchable by state and issue.
The NCHEMS Information Center for State Higher Education Policymaking and Analysis. This 50-state database established by the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems offers comparative data by state and county for users to explore “How your state is doing” on a host of measures, including affordability, participation, student success, competitiveness and “cross-cutting” information.