Graduation rates are very low for part-time students, concludes a recent study, "Time is the Enemy." Only 7.8 percent of part-timers earn a two-year degree in four years.
Sandra Frederic was thinking of taking fewer classes to save money, but a work-study job at Single Stop and food stamps for her mother have kept Frederic on track to earn an associate degree in sports medicine.
"Single Stop is becoming the game changer for graduation," says Pryor.
The idea is catching on. Last week, the American Association of Community Colleges and the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) launched Benefits Access for College Completion, a three-year, $4.84 million initiative at six community colleges.
Colleges will develop their own models, such as training financial aid and student services counselors to help students apply for aid and incorporating benefit access assistance in orientation. "We hope the colleges will move beyond needing grants ... but instead will build it into their way of doing business," says Amy Ellen Duke-Benfield, senior policy analyst for CLASP.
Joanne Jacobs writes Community College Spotlight for The Hechinger Report, an independent nonprofit education news site. Jacobs also blogs about K-12 education and is the author of Our School: The Inspiring Story of Two Teachers, One Big Idea and the Charter School That Beat the Odds.