Source: Washington Monthly
Author: Jamaal Abdul-alim
Four years ago, Christine Abate was driving the car she had just bought with $4,000 in cash to get to and from classes at Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio, when another driver T-boned her, sending her car careening front end first into a set of boulders. Her vehicle was badly banged up, but fortunately she wasn’t. “The doctors were surprised I walked away from the accident,” Abate recalled.
She was lucky in another way: She had a strong support system at her college. Unexpected life events, like suddenly being without a car, are a major reason students drop out of college. At Cuyahoga Community College, known locally as Tri-C, Abate was part of an experimental program called Degree in Three that was designed to help students like her stay on track. In return for agreeing to attend school full-time—going part-time is another factor linked to increased dropout rates—students in the program received tuition assistance for any costs not covered by their other financial aid, essentially making college free. They were also given $50 monthly gift cards to defray the cost of gas and groceries, and received more individual attention from academic advisers—a resource most students at financially strained community colleges sorely lack.
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