Provides a descriptive analysis of the financial challenges faced by low-income students of color in community colleges, and makes policy recommendations at the federal level that can potentially improve college attainment and enrollment for these students.

The resource begins by taking a closer look at federal financial-aid data on students by race/ethnicity, which show that, “of students who entered college in 2005, 62 percent of whites received a degree within six years, versus 40 percent of blacks and 51 percent of Hispanics. The increase in college costs, coupled with the decreased funding for financial aid, have led to sizable gaps in unmet need, pushing college out of reach for many low-income students of color” (p.1).

The author defines an unmet need as “… the gap between college costs and what students have to pay after accounting for the student’s expected family contribution (EFC), grants and scholarships, and any other aid that does not need to be repaid” (p.1).

The resource, published in June 2015, found that: “…the percentage of independent students with unmet need has dropped since 2007-2008; [however], there are still a substantial number of students with high unmet financial need, including more than 70 percent of students in the bottom two quartiles. According to the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, about 38 percent of all community college students received enough federal and state grants to cover all tuition and fees in 2012. But the remaining 62 percent still faced significant unmet financial need… White students averaged $3,517 in unmet need, while black students averaged $5,054 and Hispanic students averaged $4,214...While historically marginalized populations of color have gained increased access to higher education, their financial need continues to affect their ability to complete their programs of study and earn a degree or credential” (p. 2-3).

(Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)

Major Findings & Recommendations

Based on previous research done by CLASP, the author notes the main benefits of improved financial aid policies for low-income students include: • “Reduced reliance on student loans to supplement unmet financial need, • Reduced need to work more while in school, and • Reduced likelihood of stopping or dropping out” (p. 4). The resource then provides four specific recommendations to Congress to better serve low-income students of color. “These include: • Preserving continuous student aid eligibility for students who mix their enrollment intensity over the course of their college program. • Allowing students to receive aid more flexibly for year-round study, enabling them to respond to changing family and life circumstances or to accelerate their studies. • Requiring that students who submit a FAFSA are made aware of public benefits for which they may be eligible. • Increasing the semester cap on Pell Grants to ensure students have access to Pell throughout the entire course of their program of study and to better align with Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) requirements” (p.4). (Abstractor: Author and Website Staff)