Beyond Financial Aid FAQ


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What is BFA?

Beyond Financial Aid: How colleges can strengthen the financial stability of low-income students and improve student outcomes (BFA) is a resource that two- and four-year colleges can use to supplement their efforts to close attainment gaps for low-income students. Its centerpiece is a six-part self-assessment, accompanied by an interpretation guide, that helps institutions assess existing efforts and identify additional resources—beyond scholarships, grants, and loans—to support the “cost of living” expenses that frequently hinder the persistence and completion of low-income students.

Executive Summary | 77k | 2 pgs.
Info Sheet | 849k | 2 pgs.
Self-assessment Guide | 274k | 10 pgs.
Full Document | 2.1M | 47 pgs.


How is BFA organized?

BFA consists of two sections:

A primer on strengthening support for low-income college students: This section makes the case for improved support for low-income students and provides a framework with six concrete strategies and examples from colleges across the country.

  • Part 1: Making the case for improved support to low income students briefly summarizes the composition of the low-income population in our institutions of higher education and the explains the impact of poverty on student success. We then outline the multiple benefits of improving the financial stability of these students.
  • Part 2: Exploring six strategies to support low-income students provides a framework for approaching assistance to students with economic challenges, including a set of practical strategies and examples.

The Student Financial Stability Self-Assessment Instrument and Interpretation Guide: This section is designed to help your institution assess the extent of its comprehensive support for low-income students and plan revisions accordingly.

  • Part 3: Assessing your institution’s support of low-income students offers a self-assessment tool that can help you identify your current practices for supporting low-income students and spur thinking about how to revise existing approaches and add new ones.
  • Part 4: Interpreting your self-assessment results and strengthening support of low-income students provides a guide
    for interpreting your assessment findings and/or facilitating an institutional conversation about how to strengthen assistance to low-income students and improve their outcomes.

Who is BFA for?

BFA is designed to assist individuals and teams at community colleges and undergraduate institutions interested in enabling more low-income students to reach their educational goals.


How can I share feedback on BFA and/or the self-assessment?

If you would like to share your thoughts on or suggestions for improving BFA and specifically, the self-assessment/interpretation guide, please visit here to complete a brief form. We appreciate your time and thoughtfulness.


How can our institution share its success with a given practice with the field?

We are eager to learn from your campus efforts and share them with other institutions in the field that may find them useful. If you would like to share your college’s experience in implementing a related practice, please click here to complete a brief form or schedule a brief phone call with a team member.


Whom can we contact for more information?

For more information about BFA, please contact Thomas Major, Jr., corporate counsel and strategy officer at Lumina Foundation at tmajor@luminafoundation.org.

To contact the BFA authors, please contact Priyadarshini Chaplot at priyachaplot@gmail.com or Rob Johnstone at rob@inquiry2improvement.com.


What kind of follow up and support is available for our institution?

This website contains the full BFA report, college examples, and archived materials (e.g., webinar recordings, PowerPoint presentations). Additionally, we have a list of upcoming in-person and virtual sessions here. If your college is interested in engaging the National Center for Inquiry and Improvement to facilitate a half-day or full-day workshop on campus, please contact the authors at the e-mail addresses listed above.


What upcoming activities can I attend, either in-person or virtually, to learn more?

For a list of upcoming learning opportunities, please visit the presentations section.