Helping Low-Income Students Cross the Finish Line: Innovations That Support College Completion



Final Evaluation Report: Public Benefits and Community Colleges: Lessons from the Benefits Access for College Completion Demonstration
This report provides data, insights, and lessons from DVP-PRAXIS’ evaluation of the Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) initiative. Derek Price, president and principal of DVP-PRAXIS, shared select findings at the forum.

Benefits Access for College Completion: Innovative Approaches to Meet the Financial Needs of Low-Income Students
This fact sheet provides a broad overview of the genesis, activities, and goals of BACC.

Student Voices: Financial Supports Key to College Persistence, Completion
This blog post, the first in a series by CLASP’s Katherine Saunders, shares the story of a low-income student struggling to make ends meet and complete her degree. It places her experiences in the larger context of postsecondary education reform.


On November 20, CLASP Executive Director Olivia Golden and leading economic thinker Jared Bernstein joined the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success at CLASP for a forum on increasing college completion among low-income students. In today’s economy, success in higher education is essential for people to secure good jobs and for employers to meet their workforce needs. That’s why our nation’s economic future depends on improved educational outcomes. This forum focused on one of the biggest barriers to students’ college completion: financial burdens, particularly for independent students who may be raising a family and combining education with low-wage work.

Along with Jared Bernstein, a panel of higher education experts, front-line college leadership, and national policy leaders discussed strategies for reducing financial burdens and increasing college completion, including better connecting students to food assistance, health insurance, and other crucial benefits.

The forum shared lessons and new outcome data from Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC), an initiative of CLASP and the American Association of Community Colleges. In partnership with leading foundations, BACC has helped seven colleges develop new policies that integrate screening and application assistance for public benefits with other services like financial aid counseling and registration. As part of that effort, colleges have deepened their working relationships with state and local human services agencies. New data from the BACC evaluation was available for the first time at the forum.

Panelists engaged in a lively, honest discussion about what’s worked and what hasn’t and place the lessons of BACC in the larger context of postsecondary education reform. The panel included:

  • Caroline Altman Smith, Senior Program Officer, Kresge Foundation (Introduction);
  • Olivia Golden, Executive Director, CLASP (Moderator);
  • Michael Baston, Vice President of Student Affairs, LaGuardia Community College;
  • Jared Bernstein, Senior Fellow, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities;
  • Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield, Senior Policy Analyst, CLASP; and
  • Derek Price, President and Principal, DVP-Praxis, LTD.