Community College Completion

Improving Persistence and Completion for Low-Income Community College Students 

leo_subpage_photo_working_for_a_better_tomorrowPhoto: © Steve Liss,

Faculty Affiliates: Melissa Kearney, James Sullivan, William Evans, Marci Ybarra

Partners: Catholic Charities Fort Worth

Location: Fort Worth, Texas

Policy Issue: Even though completion of community college significantly increases earnings and decreases unemployment for graduates compared to those with only a high school diploma, six years after enrolling for the first time at a community college, only 35 percent of students have received some degree or certificate, while nearly 50 percent of students have dropped out.

Program Description:An innovative, new program, Stay the Course, was designed through a collaboration between Catholic Charities Fort Worth (CCFW) and Tarrant County College (TCC) to address the personal, non-academic, social, and institutional barriers to success in college. Stay the Course has two key components: full-service, wrap-around case management and access to emergency financial assistance (EFA).

Evaluation: LEO is working with CCFW and TCC to determine the impact of this program through a randomized controlled trial (RCT) evaluation to test whether an intervention that directly addresses personal, non-academic, and social-institutional barriers will increase community college persistence and completion rates.