Policy Brief Highlights Adverse Effect of Eliminating Title IV Eligibility for Ability-to-Benefit
The "open door enrollment philosophy" of community colleges is not being rewarded by policy makers, according to a new policy brief, Why Access Matters: The Community College Student Body, by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).
The organization says that lawmakers are too focused on "completion rates and success indicators buoyed by enrollment data that does not accurately capture what community colleges do and whom they serve."
Community colleges admit nearly half of all minority undergraduate students and more than 40 percent of undergraduates living in poverty. Community colleges also served approximately 60 percent of ability-to-benefit students.
AACC says the recent congressional elimination of Title IV eligibility for ability-to-benefit students disproportionately affected populations already underrepresented when looking at student success: An estimated 19 percent of ability-to-benefit students were African American and 31 percent were Hispanic. These populations each make up 14 percent of higher education's undergraduate student body.
"Although college graduation for these students is a lesser probability than it is for students that are better academically prepared, this federal policy may deny personal and social benefit to tens of thousands of students who want to build better lives for themselves and their families," AACC says.
AACC states that this federal policy is a prime example of policies serving only those who are most likely to succeed.
"Community colleges offer higher education access to anyone who wants to learn, regardless of their income, status in life, age or ethnicity," said Walter G. Bumphus, president and CEO of AACC. "We fear that success indicators focused on degree completion only, will lead to restricting college access to those who are the most likely to succeed, not those who need it the most."