How Community Colleges Address Basic Needs and Financial Stability of Low-Income Students to Boost College Completion: Lessons from the Working Students Success Network

Publisher: Oakland, CA: Mathematica Policy Research
Apr 30, 2018
Authors
Margaret Sullivan, Derek V. Price, Lindsay Fox, and Ann Person

Key Findings:

  • Receiving an intensive, one-on-one service may matter more than receiving services across multiple pillars.
  • Colleges may reach more students with less intensive services delivered in group settings, but one-on-one services can be customized to align with individual needs and goals.
  • A one-on-one service delivery approach may not be the only way to target services to meet individual needs.
The Working Students Success Network (WSSN), an expansion of the Working Families Success Network into nineteen community colleges, represents an innovative, comprehensive strategy for supporting low-income students and students of color. The WSSN strategy brings together and integrates access to a full range of services and supports to help students improve their financial knowledge, budgeting skills and choice of financial products, and develop and implement achievable career plans, putting students on a path to securing marketable postsecondary credentials and achieving economic success. To better understand how colleges that are part of the WSSN implement this approach, the WSSN national leadership group contracted Mathematica Policy Research and DVP-Praxis to document key aspects of WSSN implementation, and to analyze participant characteristics and service receipt and their relationship to academic outcomes. Taken together, the findings from the implementation and outcomes studies of the WSSN suggest that community colleges can mobilize to address the needs of low-income students and students of color.