Improving the Financial Security of Low-income Students to Improve College Completion

PROCEEDINGS FROM A NATIONAL CONVENING TO IDENTIFY CORE PRINCIPLES FOR DESIGNING AND SCALING INTEGRATED AND SYSTEMIC STRATEGIES THAT ADDRESS THIS NATIONAL CHALLENGE - Derek V. Price, DVP-PRAXIS LTD and Carol Lincoln, Achieving the Dream, Inc.

Nationally, about 55% of all students complete a degree or certificate within six years, and this completion rate is much lower for Black and Hispanic students (46% and 38%, respectively); moreover, the completion rates are lower for all students who started in two-year public institutions (39%), and similar to the overall variation by race and ethnicity, lower again for Black and Hispanic students (33% and 26%, respectively).

Given this reality, the convening initially focused on the typical college student attending under-resourced institutions, representing about 75% of all students (~14 million undergrads), including 8.7 million Pell Grant recipients.8 Participants quickly converged around the critical needs of low-income students as a core framing tool for discussion; this emphasis on low-income students was underscored by the recent report from New America Foundation showing that lower-resourced regional public universities enroll a much higher share of low-income students than state flagship universities do, and even larger shares of students from low-income families attend open-enrollment institutions such as public two-year community colleges.

This wisdom and advice of participants, as documented by this report, contributes to making credential attainment a stronger reality for all students, including those with substantial financial need.

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