After the pandemic began to spur school closures across the country — exacerbating housing and food insecurity for thousands of students — Compton College was among the first institutions to partner with Edquity. Now, after disbursing more than $50,000 to Compton College students, we’re proud to announce that students awarded emergency aid from Edquity were twice as likely to graduate than those who didn’t receive funding.
Much like the millions of students living in poverty, according to a 2019 survey conducted by The Hope Center, more than 50% of Compton College students reported food insecurity, 63% faced housing insecurity, and 23% struggled with homelessness. But pioneering leaders like Compton College President Dr. Keith Curry, who I’ve been grateful to work with over the last year, are committed to finding innovative ways to ensure students facing economic hardship have a fair shot at graduating.
Here at Edquity, we believe that efficient, equitable approaches to emergency aid can help students stay in school. To test our hypothesis, an independent researcher examined the persistence outcomes of the 289 students who applied for $250 of financial support in May, and the 92 who were awarded aid. After six months, we learned: 22% of students who received emergency aid via Edquity earned credentials in spring or summer, compared to 11% of non-recipient students.
While we’re still examining how Edquity’s emergency aid platform can help to increase retention for all students, regardless of where they are in their academic journeys, early data from Compton College suggests that grants may have a greater impact on students who are nearing the finish line, and preparing to graduate. These preliminary findings aren’t just positive for Compton College’s students — they’re promising for colleges and universities across the country that are looking for new, impactful solutions to streamline their emergency aid pipelines, maintain enrollment, and help students graduate.
Better yet, it’s not May 2020 anymore.
Not only does that mean that the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, but it also means that we have more than nine months of learning under our belt, and we’ve continued to improve and refine our research-informed, expert-backed approach to distributing financial aid. For example, at Compton College last year, the vast majority of students were able to apply for and receive funds in less than 48 hours. Today, we’re working to get that turnaround time down to 24 hours so that students struggling with a basic needs emergency — from car troubles to childcare expenses to overdue bills — can get the funds they need, when they need them. As we know, without these emergency grants (not to mention these quick turnaround times), these financial struggles can slow, derail, or ultimately stop students’ progress in the classroom.
Additionally, these findings arrive as colleges and universities are set to distribute unprecedented amounts of both federal and state emergency aid to students. Between the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act passed in December and an impending third stimulus bill, postsecondary institutions will have over $12 billion in emergency aid that they are mandated to distribute to students. Given that Edquity has already helped to distribute more than $13 million to students (including over $10 million in CARES federal emergency aid), we’re well positioned to help colleges and universities near and far from Compton, California to cost-effectively manage their emergency aid programs as equitably and efficiently as possible.
From day one, our mission at Edquity has been to address economic injustices by using higher education as a means to narrow equity gaps, build financial security, and facilitate social mobility. Therefore, while it’s important to pause to celebrate and acknowledge the early impact we’ve been able to have with our partners at Compton College, at Edquity, our work is far from finished. After all, our goal is to create a world where no student has to end their educational aspirations because of a financial emergency. To create that world, we must interpret these preliminary findings not as an endpoint, but as a signpost on the side of the road, encouraging us forward, telling us that we’re heading in the right direction, and reminding us of what is possible.
Download the full report, FAQs, and press release here.