Creating one-stop student services has changed the campus culture at Central New Mexico Community College (CNM), reports Community College Times.
CNM Connect offers the college’s 30,000 students access to achievement coaches, financial coaching, study skills workshops, free tax preparations and more in one location.
. . . “It’s the front door of our college,” said CNM President Katharine Winograd.
In 2006, the CNM Center for Working Families began bundling services for needy students. With support from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the Kresge Foundation, CNM expanded to serve all students.
Students use Connect to pick up scholarship applications, plan finances and use the free tax preparation services. They visit achievement coaches, who help students set goals, select classes and evaluate the consequences of dropping a class or enrolling part time instead of full time.
First-time students who accessed CNM Connect in fall 2011 had a retainment rate of about 80 percent, compared to 72 percent for those who didn’t use the services. Of the non-first-time students who used the services in fall 2011, 79 percent returned in spring 2012, compared to a 67-percent rate for those who didn’t access the services.
Before CNM Connect, student services staffers were specialized: A financial aid employee only answered financial aid questions. With additional training and access to information on the computer system, staffers can help students solve a range of problems.
Colorado community college students helped low- and moderate-income taxpayers collect $6 million in refunds this year through Tax Help Colorado.
The program, funded by the Piton Foundation, targets working families who are eligible for tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.
Participating students take a tax-preparation class in the fall to earn IRS certification. In the spring semester, they operate a free tax preparation service at the college. Students receive credits for both semesters, real-world experience and exposure to careers in tax work and accounting.
New Mexico colleges that participate in Tax Help New Mexico report enrollment increases in accounting and business majors.