Powered by Publics institutions are working to lower college costs for students, shorten time to graduation, help students reduce their debt, and ensure graduates are prepared with the hard and soft skills needed to succeed in the workforce. These efforts are targeted toward low-income, minoritized, and first-generation students to ensure equitable access to higher education and contribute toward more equitable student outcomes. Although quantitative data sources are limited, qualitative and survey data inform the clusters’ activities. In addition to Affordability, Powered by Publics are also institutions working within the thematic areas of Teaching and Learning and Holistic Student Supports.
Many students and their families struggle to navigate a maze of complex financial information about college. Despite their best efforts, they may be unable to access all the financial aid for which they qualify, miss out on ways to lower costs once enrolled, or even forgo college entirely. Powered by Publics institutions in the Southern Central cluster are developing new communications resources for universities to help ensure students – particularly those from low-income, first-generation, and minoritized backgrounds – have clear, straightforward financial information about college as well as personalized support they need. For more information, contact Gregory Thornton. In addition, read the Urban Cluster’s learning memo on several campus affordability efforts. Powered by Publics also undertook new research across four clusters on the pandemic, college affordability, and student debt; an examination of federal emergency financial aid during the pandemic, and a study on addressing student financial need beyond the pandemic.
Students are often encouraged to reach out to university advisors after experiencing academic challenges. Universities in the Metropolitan cluster are flipping this approach on its head with proactive advising – college advising that helps institutions identify students who need additional support early so they can anticipate and address challenges to help students thrive. Following exhaustive research and careful design, institutions are implementing proactive advising aimed at addressing the barriers specifically facing low-income students, including Pell Grant recipients. In addition to proactive advising, these institutions have developed a host of resources on coaching-based advising to help frontline advisors build the financial confidence of their low-income students. The Metropolitan Cluster is also working to develop resources on meaningful on-campus student employment as a high-impact practice. Read the cluster’s introductory learning memo outlining evidence-based practices for boosting student success. For more information about the Metropolitan Cluster, contact Julia Chadwick.
The cost of textbooks and course materials are significant, and providing students with low-cost, free, and open educational resources is an important strategy for improving affordability. That’s why Powered by Publics institutions in the High Pell cluster are working to identify and implement best practices for cultivating low-income students’ financial wellness, including the adoption of affordable learning materials that are cheaper than textbooks and sometimes free. For information on the High Pell cluster, please contact Julia Michaels.