CLASP shares this brief to support state policy leaders in holistically addressing college affordability, this brief provides an overview of the public benefit programs most relevant to students with low incomes and identifies how states can better align their public benefits and postsecondary education policies to increase the number of students who complete credentials.
States need to look beyond traditional financial aid sources and free college programs to better support the success of students with low incomes. Access to public, means-tested benefits, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and child care assistance, can help students with low incomes meet financial obligations while in school until they can complete their credential and find employment that provides a family-supporting wage. When states maximize access to public benefits, students benefit through increased financial stability, decreased debt levels, and ultimately improved chances of earning more and contributing more to the economy. When postsecondary institutions leverage public benefits, they gain added federal and state financial resources to support persistence and completion.