Wealthy families receive more scholarship money than low-income families according to a study by Sallie Mae. (Photo/Getty Images )

How a group’s “single stop” aid to college students boosts graduation rates

The reason many Latino students do not finish college is not due to a lack of ganas or motivation, but rather the realities of  the high costs of college. Even juggling part-time or full-time work is not enough for many Hispanic students.  But one organization, Single Stop USA, is partnering with community colleges to literally provide “one-stop” services to Latino students, thus ensuring that many of these first-generation college students end up with that dreamed-about diploma.

“The data make it very clear that America’s future economic success is deeply connected to Latino college completion,” according to Eduardo J. Padrón, chairman of the President’s Advisory Commission on Educational Excellence for Hispanics as well as president of Miami Dade College.  To that end, Single Stop is one of the organizations which is taking part in Excelencia in Education‘s Ensuring America’s Future by Increasing Latino College Completion national initiative.

Single Stop uses a “one-stop” model to make sure eligible low-income students make use of services they qualify for.  This includes tuition assistance, tax credits, and even public health and food assistance. Many students do not even know these programs can help them. Miami Dade, along with Contra Costa College in California, Central New Mexico Community College and some of the CUNY (City of New York) community colleges, are partnering with Single Stop.  In these community colleges, 23 percent of Latino students accessed public benefits, 55 percent received assistance with tax preparation and credits, 13 percent received financial counseling and 10 percent got legal services help, for example.

“With more than half of Latino college students enrolled in community colleges, supporting these students and connecting them with the services they need to ensure they graduate will be vital to the future strength and competitiveness of America’s workforce,” said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of the American Association of Community Colleges.

A report out today by Excelencia in Education and Single Stop says it is important is to bring successful programs like Single Stop to scale, in order to increase Latino college completion rates. The authors  recommend addressing what they called “antiquated” eligibility rules that currently disqualify some low-income students from receiving aid, as well as providing student support services along with financial aid.

“With the future of the U.S. economy linked tightly to the success of Latino students, colleges must think creatively about how they can use their resources and the services available in the community to ensure Latino student success,” states the report.

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