These questions reflect institutional commitment and related activities that foster a culture of support for low-income students. Identifying and rating a culture of student support is a tricky endeavor; the seven items included in the Self-Assessment attempt to operationally define the markers of such a culture.
If you answered mostly C or D, your institution has not yet fully activated the wide array of practitioners on your campus in support of student financial stability. While the institution may provide episodic support or feel it is handled by the financial aid office, there is work to be done to fully energize and systematize campus efforts to ensure low-income student success. Most college practitioners are passionate about student success, and in most cases, the issue is not a lack of caring, but rather the lack of a clearly defined system to provide such supports, and clear articulation of roles and responsibilities across the college. Institutions may consider a professional development exercise in which all faculty, staff and administrators articulate the ways they can bolster student success and connect students to campus-provided and partner resources. Results from the exercise could be used to improve the campus culture of low-income student success.
- If you answered mostly B, you have some efforts in place that are working to build a strong culture of support. Consider further enhancing professional development efforts and feedback mechanisms to ensure that the full range of campus personnel are trained to serve students’ financial support needs.
- If you answered mostly A, your institution is responsive to the needs of low-income students.
During your reflection, consider conducting an equity audit or process review that can help your team better understand which policies most affect low-income students, and how they can be adapted to meet low-income student needs. These policies may include financial aid disbursement timing, book vouchers, payment/registration policies, online vs. in-person registration, and open educational resources.