Cover: Connecting College Students to Alternative Sources of Support

Connecting College Students to Alternative Sources of Support

The Single Stop Community College Initiative and Postsecondary Outcomes

Published Apr 29, 2020

by Lindsay Daugherty, William R. Johnston, Tiffany Berglund


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Research Questions

  1. Does interaction with the Single Stop program, regardless of the type and intensity of services received, help support improved postsecondary outcomes, such as persistence and credit accumulation?
  2. Does the relationship between use of Single Stop and student outcomes vary by services used?
  3. Does the relationship between use of Single Stop and student outcomes vary for different types of students?
  4. Does the relationship between use of Single Stop and student outcomes vary across institutions?

Single Stop U.S.A.'s Community College Initiative was designed to improve the well-being of low-income communities by connecting individuals to public benefits and other institutional and community resources to address nonacademic barriers to college completion. Through offices located on community college campuses, Single Stop provides students with a range of free services, including screenings and applications for public benefit programs; tax services, financial counseling, and legal services; and case management with referrals to a wide variety of resources and support programs across the institution and community. This report presents an evaluation of the Single Stop program and its impact on students' postsecondary outcomes. The authors examined the Single Stop program at four community college systems: Bunker Hill Community College, City University of New York, Delgado Community College, and Miami Dade College. The analysis indicates that use of Single Stop was associated with improved postsecondary outcomes. The findings suggest that access to alternative financial resources from government benefit programs alongside a network of institutional and community support programs can offer valuable support to college students.

Key Findings

Community College Students Who Used Single Stop Were Likely to Experience Improved Postsecondary Success

  • In a study of first-time-in-college students at four community college systems during fall 2014, Single Stop use was associated with an increase in college persistence of at least 3 percentage points.
  • Single Stop users attempted more credits than comparable students who did not use Single Stop.
  • Use of Single Stop's tax assistance services was associated with particularly positive outcomes in terms of persistence and credits earned.
  • Findings were particularly positive for Single Stop users who were adult learners (age 25 and older), independent students, and nonwhite students.
  • Single Stop use was associated with improved postsecondary outcomes at all but one of the institutions in the study.


  • Institutions should consider offering programs similar to Single Stop that create a central location for access to wraparound supports and provide greater access to government benefit programs and other critical services.
  • Single Stop's model of a one-stop shop should be considered as a way to integrate existing resources in an institution and reduce the complexity of processes that students must undertake to obtain financial and nonfinancial support.
  • The relationship between Single Stop use and postsecondary outcomes suggest that public benefit programs might act as an important source of financial support for college students. State and federal benefit providers should consider how the modification of eligibility requirements and the simplification of application requirements might improve the accessibility of public benefit programs as a source of support.
  • Comprehensive tracking of benefit recipients and data-sharing with programs such as Single Stop can help improve coordination of services while also supporting research around the use of benefit programs by students.

Research conducted by

The research described in this report was sponsored by Single Stop U.S.A. and conducted by RAND Education and Labor.

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