LaGuardia Community College Joins Nationwide Initiative To Create Pathway to Education for Community College Students

Long Island City, NY—In an effort to improve postsecondary success for low-income community college students, LaGuardia Community College is participating in a $4.84 million nationwide initiative to explore whether students receiving public benefits are better able to stay in college longer and complete their course of study faster.

When the three-year, Benefits Access for College Completion (BACC) is launched this summer, LaGuardia and five of the nation’s community colleges will focus on testing that view and developing models that will ultimately be implemented at more than 1,200 community colleges.   LaGuardia is the only community college in New York State selected to participate in the pilot project.

“The initiative is a creative idea and huge opportunity to help financially troubled students get the benefits they are eligible to receive, potentially assisting them to finish a degree,” said Dr. Gail O. Mellow, President of LaGuardia Community College, “while also shifting the policy environment to make sure benefits can be accessed in a timely and effective way for our nation’s students.”

BACC is led by the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) and the American Association of Community College (AACC), and funded by the Ford Foundation, Lumina Foundation and the Open Society Foundation.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation is also contributing to the effort.

In developing a model that will provide eligible students with better access to income supports and other existing public resources, the participating colleges will work in partnership with local and state benefits administrators to eliminate policy barriers and align services.

“A college education is a powerful bridge to self sufficiency and a bright future, but when finances are a missing plank on that bridge, innovative strategies have to be undertaken to ensure safe passage,” said Michael Baston, LaGuardia’s Vice President for Student Affairs. “Participating colleges will develop a model that will ensure that students are getting the financial help they need to cross that bridge and head toward a productive future.”

Of the estimated 8 million credit students attending community colleges annually, 46% receive some form of financial aid, however many still face financial obstacles.  This initiative will expose them of the wide range of public benefits and refundable tax credits that they can tap into.  For example, students who are parents may be eligible for cash and nutritional assistance, child-care subsidies, public health insurance and tax credits, while students who do not have children may receive support from the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program and tax credits.

“We are committed to student completion and appreciate the major investment these foundations are making,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President.  “Their collaborative vision will help community colleges identify the best ways for students to access the benefits and services they need to finish what they start.”

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LaGuardia Community College located in Long Island City, Queens, was founded in 1971 as a bold experiment in opening the doors of higher education to all, and we proudly carry forward that legacy today. LaGuardia educates students through over 50 degree, certificate and continuing education programs, providing an inspiring place for students to achieve their dreams. Upon graduation, LaGuardia students’ lives are transformed as family income increases 17%, and students transfer to four-year colleges at three times the national average. Part of the City University of New York (CUNY), LaGuardia is a nationally recognized leader among community colleges for boundary-breaking success educating underserved students. At LaGuardia we imagine new ideas, create new curriculum and pioneer programs to make our community and our country stronger. Visit www.laguardia.edu to learn more.

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