Supports help Latinos stay in college

The youngest and fastest growing population group in the U.S., Latinos now account for more than 20 percent of K-12 students.  However, in 2012, 21.3 percent of Latino adults had earned an associate degree or higher compared to 40.1 percent of all adults. Excelencia in Education‘s national initiative, Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion, is focusing on community colleges, because that’s where most Latinos start — and end — their pursuit of higher education.

In a new report, “Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic FutureExcelencia and Single Stop USA describe how innovative community colleges are changing financial aid and studentservices to help low-income students — including many Latinos — stay in college.

 . . . many Latino students are the first in their family to attend college and make choices to contain costs by enrolling at community colleges, attending part-time, and working more than 20 hours per week while enrolled. Unfortunately, data show all these practical choices by students hinder their college completion.

Too few Latino students know there are resources available to assist with college costs. They are also less likely to access financial resources like tax credits, food assistance, and public health insurance that can enable them to maintain a stable family budget while enrolled. Single Stop USA and its community college partners connect thousands of students to millions of dollars in existing benefits and services that immediately reduce the financial strain faced by Latino students.

Single Stop sites at 17 community colleges help students file their taxes, apply for government benefits, and receive financial and legal counseling. Thirty-eight percent of students served in 2012 were Latino.

The report recommends:

 Federal policy makers can utilize Higher Education Act reauthorization to incentivize colleges to implement student services that are well aligned with retention, completion and employment outcomes, such as the models being developed by Single Stop.

 Complement investments in financial aid by providing student support services that address multiple barriers that can thwart Latino student completion.

 Improve targeting of information regarding financial aid by intentionally developing dissemination strategies that will more effectively reach Latino, low-income and other post-traditional students.

 Address antiquated eligibility rules that disqualify needy students from receiving aid that can help them complete college and attain self-sufficiency.

“America’s future economic success is deeply connected to Latino college completion,” says Eduardo J. Padrón, president of Miami Dade College, which is working with Single Stop.

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Darcy U. Reilly

WASHINGTON – Excelencia in Education and Single Stop USA this week released a new report revealing how innovative community colleges across the country are making smart changes in their financial aid and student services that help thousands of Latino students gain access to millions of dollars to stay in and complete college. The report, Supporting Latino Community College Students: An Investment in Our Economic Future, includes a series of policy recommendations for federal, state and institutional leaders to expand these successful practices across the country.Latinos represent over 20 percent of students in K-12 education and are projected to increase their representation more than other demographic groups. However, in 2012, 21.3 percent of Latino adults had earned an associate degree or higher compared to 40.1 percent of all adults.

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