On September 14th, Larry Hogan, Beam, formerly Edquity, Vice President of Partnerships, sat down with Dr. Maria Grandone, Director of the University Advisement Center at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), and Dr. Cesar Jimenez, Dean of Counseling and Guided Pathways at Compton College, to discuss findings from CSU Dominguez Hills’ recent report focused on the impact of their Transfer Student Support Fund on transfer student enrollment.
Several key insights emerged on how emergency aid programs positively impact transfer students:
Often, restricted grants have specific academic-based criteria, such as GPA requirements, that students must meet before receiving funding, in addition to limiting the ways funds can be used. However, this can lead to funding disparities between high academic performers and students in need of funding. “Students who are facing financial hardship are often the most likely to have a low GPA,” shared Hogan. “With unrestricted grants, your institution is saying ‘We’re here to support you. There are no restrictions on this fund; we just want to give you the resources you need to succeed here at the University.’”
Beam's student survey data shows that most emergency aid applicants experience multiple basic needs insecurities simultaneously, spanning transportation, housing, food, and childcare. Analysis of CSUDH’s results indicated “learning resources” as the largest insecurity for applicants. “Students that were able to apply for the transfer funds indicated that learning challenges were at a rate of over 27% higher than the students at other higher education institutions,” noted Dr. Grandone. This information is useful in investigating emergency and support resources for specific student groups.
“Some of the applicants who took advantage of this program may not have created a student account, but they must have the ability to claim these funds directly,” shared Dr. Jiminez. “The partnership with CSU Dominguez Hills, the other California community colleges, and Beam meant that students were able to claim the funds directly to their bank account, reducing the time from application to award.”
Low transfer enrollment numbers can be attributed to poor communication between institutions regarding the transfer process. While institutions may communicate with students about transfer requirements, the lack of a clear academic pathway between institutions can lead to confusion among students who are unsure of their next steps. “Community colleges can work closely with four-year universities to develop equitable pathways towards their bachelor's degrees,” shared Dr. Jimenez. “This means demystifying the transfer process and also offering cross-functional student support.”
While the CSUDH Transport Student Support Fund was grant-funded, Drs. Grandone and Jiminez both insist that further funding and holistic emergency aid program support must be a communal effort. “We can’t continue to think that we’re going to be doing this on our own,” shared Dr. Grandone. “It starts at the top [with leadership]. Sustaining these funds [should be] included in the Strategic and Master Plans,” quoted Dr. Jiminez.