College Student Success Act Strengthens Financial, Academic Supports

By Lauren Walizer

Today, the Community College Success Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would strengthen financial and academic supports that help students complete school and achieve better transfer outcomes. These supports would be delivered through programs at community colleges, which would compete for federal funds through a competitive grant process.

The bill, which CLASP strongly supports, uses as its basis the innovative Accelerated Study in Associates Programs (ASAP) model.  This model was developed because school delivery systems weren’t meeting students’ financial and academic needs. ASAP enables schools to provide tutoring; career and transfer advice; and financial assistance with tuition, fees, transportation, and textbooks. The ASAP program at City University of New York, where the program design was created six years ago, has been particularly successful. Over 63 percent of first-time students who participate in ASAP have completed an associates or bachelors program (or both). By contrast, only 43 percent of students who weren’t served through ASAP have completed their programs. Additionally, the ASAP model reduced cost per graduate by 11 percent.

Last month, CLASP released the first brief in our series Opportunities for Addressing Postsecondary Student Poverty in the Higher Education Act (HEA). The brief recommends building student supports into HEA using both ASAP  and a ”college promise” model that covers the cost of tuition and fees. By making supports more foundational to higher education, we can give students greater access to the services they need, even if they don’t participate in an ASAP program. The brief also encourages more comprehensive financial supports.

These recommendations align closely with the Community College Success Act. CLASP urges Congress to pass this bill to make aid responsive, transform education delivery, and leverage outcome information to improve decision making.