Connecting Community College Students to Non-Tuition Supports During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Connecting Community College Students to Non-Tuition Supports During the COVID-19 Pandemic

February 2022

Sara Goldrick-Rab, Christine Baker-Smith, Eric Bettinger, Gregory Walton, Shannon Brady, Japbir Gill, and Elizabeth Looker

Surveys show that many students in distress are not connected to resources that may help them and the leading reason is lack of information. Stigma around needing help also holds students back from accessing resources they know about.

This study examines an inexpensive way for community colleges to overcome those barriers and connect students to key resources including emergency aid and advising, which may lower their non-tuition expenses and improve their well-being. In collaboration with Dallas College, SignalVine, and partners Eric Bettinger, Gregory Walton, and Shannon Brady we find nudging substantially increased the rate at which students reached out for support and there was some evidence that nudges reducing stigma were more successful at making students feel empowered. We also find some evidence that effects may vary by age, race/ethnicity, and gender. Overall, it appears that low-cost text messaging to students about supports during the pandemic increases their use of those programs.

This research is supported by the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education and Lumina Foundation. We thank Dallas College, Edquity, and SignalVine, as well as program officer James Benson, for project support.