This Final Evaluation Report provides the lessons learned from the Benefits Access for College Completion demonstration (BACC) demonstration project at five of the seven community colleges over the past three years. From the onset of BACC, the evaluation was focused on documenting and learning how the participating colleges approached this work, and how and why they made adjustments during the demonstration. This evaluation approach was intended to provide useful formative feedback to the colleges during the demonstration, but it also was intended to help answer the overarching evaluation question posed by the funders: What are the most promising models for community colleges to increase benefits access for their students, and how can these models be integrated into community college operations?
During the course of our evaluation, we observed three key findings that emerged from the BACC demonstration. Colleges converged on the need for a centralized hub to deliver benefits access services, and also began moving toward an opt-out model of pre-screening and screening for benefits access by connecting this initial step in the application process to existing student support services like financial aid and advising. Cutting across these two findings is the critical importance of leadership and commitment to benefits access – up and down the administrative hierarchy and across departments and divisions, but especially for student services.
In the following sections, we first present an overview of the BACC demonstration and the various approaches colleges explored at the onset. In Section 2, we provide a detailed discussion of the three main findings from our evaluation, including how the model for delivering benefits access services changed during the demonstration, highlighting specific examples from the five colleges. In Section 3, we discuss the impact analysis at one college where quantitative student data were matched with state administrative data on the receipt of public benefits. We conclude the report by summarizing our core findings, and pointing to additional research that is needed to better understand how benefits access services can be implemented and sustained on a college campus, and the impact of these benefits on student academic outcomes.
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