Meng Introduces Community College Student Success Act

Jul 23, 2019
Press Release
Congresswoman’s bill seeks to improve graduation rates at community colleges; measure would replicate successful City University of New York (CUNY) program nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-NY) announced today that she introduced the Community College Student Success Act, which seeks to ensure that under-resourced public community colleges with high percentages of low-income and minority students, have the necessary funding to develop and implement support services that help students thrive and graduate.  

The goal of the legislation is to replicate nationwide the proven success of the City University of New York’s (CUNY) Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP). This acclaimed initiative, which CUNY launched in 2007 at its then six community colleges, helps students earn associate degrees within three years by offering a range of financial, academic, and personal assistance. The program has been found to consistently double the graduation rates of participating students.

Specifically, Meng’s legislation would provide:

  • Academic Advising: Advisors would provide ongoing academic and personal advising to students including helping to clearly lay out a three-year graduation plan and creating strong transfer pathways for students interested in continuing their education.
  • Academic and Career Support: Students on academic probation or those have been referred to developmental courses would be required to meet weekly with a tutor. Students would also meet with an on-campus career counselor or participate in career services events at least once a semester to promote career planning and success.
  • Financial Support: Students would receive a tuition waiver to cover the gap between tuition and fees and financial aid. Additionally, students satisfying all of the above meeting requirements would receive a financial incentive, such as a gas card or pass for transportation, at least once per month.

“Community colleges play a critical role in American higher education,” said Congresswoman Meng. “Of the over 40 percent of undergraduates who are enrolled at community colleges across the United States, a large portion are first-generation, low-income college students, and half are from minority communities. Unfortunately, many of the institutions they attend are under-resourced. In addition, access to college means little without degree completion. That is why I am proud to reintroduce the Community College Student Success Act, which is a holistic, student-centered approach to ensuring that community college students have the financial, academic, and career support they need to obtain their degree. If Congress truly values the importance of educating our next generation, we must increase our investment in these colleges and the students they serve. Everybody deserves a quality education, no matter their background, because education is a civil right.”

According to CUNY, ASAP has served more than 46,000 students over 12 years and has an average three-year graduation rate of 53.4% vs. 25% for matched comparison group students. Additionally, ASAP students transfer to baccalaureate programs and earn their bachelor’s degrees at higher rates than non-ASAP students.

A copy of the Community College Student Success Act, which Meng originally introduced in 2017 during the last session of Congress, can be viewed here.

“As a former community college President, I have personal experience with the specific challenges facing community college students, and ASAP has proven, time and again, to be a solution to those challenges by dramatically improving graduation rates and providing an incredible support system for our students,” said Félix V. Matos Rodríguez, Chancellor of City University of New York (CUNY). “That’s why ASAP has been scaled across CUNY, replicated in other states and now, thanks to the support of Congresswoman Meng and her colleagues, it serves as a model for the Community College Student Success Act.”

“Queensborough is incredibly proud to be one of the inaugural ASAP community colleges and the program has exceeded all expectations, consistently demonstrating that with the right support system and resources, our students can achieve unparalleled graduation rates,” said Timothy G. Lynch, Interim President of Queensborough Community College. “Thank you to Representative Meng and her fellow House members for making such a strong commitment to community college success.” 

“NCAPA welcomes the reintroduction of the Community College Student Success Act,” said Gregg Orton, National Director of the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA). “Access to higher education can be the great equalizer for many within the AAPI community as they seek to realize their own American Dream. Rep. Meng’s continued leadership and commitment to ensure that low-income and minority students have access to community college is truly commendable. Many within the broader AAPI community stand to benefit from this legislation as the economic hardships that they face are often times obscured or ignored by assumptions that all AAPIs are well-off and therefore encounter few barriers to higher education.”

“Institutions of higher education play a big role when it comes to helping students get across the finish line,” said Tamara Hiler, Deputy Director of Education at Third Way. “For this reason, we’re pleased to support Congresswoman Meng’s Community College Student Success Act, as it will prioritize investing more resources into helping students acquire the skills and credentials they need to advance in today’s economy.”

“As an antipoverty organization, the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) knows what a critical role community colleges play in improving the lives of low-income students,” said Olivia Golden, Executive Director of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP). “With their diverse student bodies and dedication to increasing access to all students, community colleges provide a much-needed space for building career pathways to family-sustaining jobs and serve as gateways to a bachelor’s degree. The Community College Student Success Act would help boost degree completion by providing academic, career, and financial supports to community college students across the country. CLASP applauds Representative Meng for her commitment to ensuring students get the education and support they need to succeed in school and beyond.”

"The National Scholarship Providers Association is beyond thrilled to support the Community College Student Success Act," said Jackie Bright, Executive Director of the National Scholarship Providers Association(NSPA). "Education is the foundation under which a person can build their version of success. Increasing access and removing barriers to education is the vision of NSPA and the scholarship community - thank you Rep. Meng for your leadership in this space!"

“Our ability as a nation to grow our economy and close equity gaps is largely dependent on the future success of community colleges,” said Robert Anderson, Ph.D., President of State Higher Education Executive Officers Association (SHEEO). “These institutions educate more of our underrepresented students and are closely connected to workforce needs. Unfortunately, they are underfunded compared to other types of institutions. The Community College Student Success Act provides a viable path forward by closing these funding gaps, focusing this funding on students with the greatest need, and providing support to institutions to develop proven student success strategies.”

“NCAN applauds the Community College Student Success Act for its efforts to replicate programs with demonstrated results,” said Carrie Warick, Director of Policy and Advocacy at National College Access Network (NCAN). “With guided pathways and stronger supports, more students complete their degrees.”

"Across Southeast Asian American communities, college completion continues to be a challenge with over 60% of Cambodian, Hmong, and Laotian Americans who lack a bachelor's degree, and over 50% of the Vietnamese American community,” said Quyen Dinh, Executive Director of the Southeast Asia Resource Action Center (SEARAC). “Community colleges are a lifeline for our community members to access their and their family's dream of education. SEARAC applauds the Community College Student Success Act for seeing our students and the challenges they face as generation, low-income students, and helping them to realize their potential by making college more affordable, and more supportive of their academic needs."