Writing in Washington Monthly, Research Professor Jodie Adams Kirshner profiles several low-income students in Memphis, TN, struggling during the pandemic with community college despite free tuition offerings and argues that more should be done for such students, in “Free Community College Is Great, But It Doesn’t Solve Everything.” She writes:
Financial woes afflict community college students even when their tuition is covered by programs like Tennessee Promise and a latticework of federal programs. More direct monies to students will help significantly, but they won’t solve the problem of keeping them in community college even after the pandemic has passed. The students I met have far less social capital—parents who attended college, familiarity with how to get assistance—that can help them at Southwest or other two-year schools. Their doggedness and ambition are admirable, but their study skills aren’t honed, and their burdens are serious.
Making it worse, community colleges don’t have the budgets to support their students the way other schools do. Indeed, public four-year schools, whose students tend to be wealthier and whiter, spend on average three times more per student each year than do community colleges.
Adams Kirshner also highlights the successes of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), a City University of New York’s community-colleges program, which provides full-time students with intensive wraparound supports.