Help with jobs, finances boosts retention

Center for Working Families’ approach to helping low-income community college students with financial challenges appears to be raising retention rates, according to  a new MDC report, Clearing the Financial Barriers to Student Success.

Community colleges from California to Connecticut using the CFW model to combine job training and placement assistance, help with applying for public benefits and financial education, such as budgeting, goal-setting, improving credit and banking.
Results are promising:

At Central New Mexico Community College, from fall 2010 to spring 2011, the retention rate was 84.7% for students who accessed supports through CNM Connect, compared to 70.5% for all first-time students.

84% of CWF students at Des Moines Community College in 2010 enrolled in a subsequent term, compared to a collegewide retention rate of 70%.

80% of Skyline’s CWF students in 2010 enrolled in a subsequent term, which compares to a 2009 retention level collegewide of 66%.

Community colleges typically work with a community partner to offer financial education, coaching, and asset-building services. When students apply for financial aid or take a student success course, financial services are included.

Students “report that access to scholarships, emergency funds, bus passes, and other financial supports are essential for them to stay in college and achieve their educational goals.”