Maui News

Schatz Joins Colleague in Introducing Community College Student Success Act

June 30, 2021, 11:24 AM HST
* Updated June 30, 11:25 AM
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US Senator Schatz Brian. PC: Official headshot

US Senators Brian Schatz, D-Hawai‘i, and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, introduced legislation to expand services for community college students and help them graduate. Backers of the bill say the Community College Student Success Act would fund programs at community colleges to support students by providing comprehensive wrap-around services, including free tutoring, textbooks and transportation.

“Our bill gives community college students the tools they need to earn a degree and find a good-paying job,” said Sen. Schatz. “When we provide targeted support services to community college students, it helps them graduate on time. We know this works because some schools are already successfully doing this.”

“Respecting the dignity of work means ensuring students of all backgrounds have the opportunity to pursue jobs that pay well and are fulfilling. By investing in programs that provide tutoring, textbooks, and transportation, we empower students to make the best decisions for their careers, whether that’s choosing to pursue additional workforce training or getting a job. I’m proud to join Senator Schatz to support this effort,” said Senator Brown.

According to the senators, community colleges serve low-income students and students of color at far higher rates than public four-year institutions and at more than half the cost. However, community colleges graduate students at far lower rates than public four-year institutions. 

Many community college students face both academic and financial obstacles. From needing remedial courses to working part- or full-time jobs to pay for the full cost of college, to navigating the bureaucracy of course selection and financial aid, community college students often face higher barriers with fewer resources.

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The Community College Student Success Act is modeled on student programs, such as the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study In Associate Programs, which has a proven record of doubling community college graduation rates.

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The Community College Student Success Act establishes competitive grant programs for community colleges to replicate the CUNY ASAP-style completion programs, or to improve and expand existing evidence-based comprehensive student success programs.

According to Sen. Schatz, the bill would provide community college students with wrap around support including:

  • Mandatory personalized academic, career, and personal advising;
  • Additional financial aid to cover unmet needs; and
  • Tutoring services, free transportation access, and free textbooks.

The Community College Student Success Act is supported by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP), Higher Learning Advocates, Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC), Ohio Association of Community Colleges (OACC), Results for America, The Education Trust (EdTrust), The Institute for College Access & Success (TICAS), University of Hawai‘i System, and Young Invincibles.

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