A new study by the RAND Corporation shows that community college students participating in a program that provides comprehensive support services were at least 3 percentage points more likely to persist into their second year of college compared to similar students who did not use the services.
The nonprofit research organization examined the participation of four community college systems in the Single Stop U.S.A. Community College Initiative, which helps low-income communities by connecting individuals to public benefits and other institutional and community resources in an effort to address nonacademic barriers to college completion. The initiative helps college students with applications for public benefit programs and other wraparound services that can provide support for housing, food, taxes, childcare, legal services and other essential needs all in a single location on campus
“These findings suggest that having a one-stop shop for nonacademic wraparound services and financial support can play a valuable role in promoting student success in college,” said Lindsay Daugherty, lead author of the study and a policy researcher at RAND.
The study examined the experiences of first-time students who used Single Stop programs at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston, City University of New York, Delgado Community College in New Orleans and Miami Dade College. While researchers were unable to look at the impact of many specific services, the study found that tax services had a strong relationship with postsecondary outcomes. One possible explanation is the ability to provide students with access to additional funds through the federal Earned Income Tax Credit.
Institutions should consider how they might offer programs like Single Stop to create a central location for students to access wraparound supports, and to provide students with greater access to government benefits programs and other critical services, according to the report. RAND researchers cautioned that more work is needed to attribute causal effects to the program and determine how the implementation and context might matter.
“This study is just a first step to understanding how programs like Single Stop may benefit community college students,” Daugherty said. “More research is needed to understand the effectiveness of programs that connect students to wraparound supports, and to determine how these programs might be effectively scaled to other colleges.”
The nonprofit group Single Stop supported the study.