Emergency Aid Pilot Program at OC proves successful for retaining, graduating students

More than 90% of Odessa College students who received Emergency Aid during the West Texas Pilot Program persisted in college the following semester or successfully earned their degree.

For context, the national persistence rate for public two-year institutions was 61% in 2020. Believe in Students, a national non-profit organization funded by philanthropic foundations facilitated the just-in-time-aid to already vulnerable students experiencing education-altering emergencies, a news release said.

Emergency Aid provides an immediate solution to students who face basic needs challenges related to food, housing, transportation, childcare, healthcare, and educational expenses. Many of these participants are first-generation college students, raising children, taking care of aging family members, and juggling work. They are forced to choose between missing class and dropping out of school to pay unexpected bills or staying on track to pursue and achieve academic goals.

Believe in Students partnered with several two-year institutions, including Odessa College, to distribute aid during the COVID-19 pandemic. From fall of 2020 through spring of 2022, more than $800,000 was distributed to nearly 2,000 students in the West Texas Emergency Aid Pilot Program. Of that, Odessa College was awarded nearly $310,000, the release said.

Students facing financial crises requested emergency aid through an easy-to-use app on their phones. Once approved, Believe in Students transferred time-sensitive cash directly into the student’s bank account within hours.

Students who drop out of school to catch up on bills, even for one semester, immediately cut their graduation chances in half.

In contrast, emergency aid keeps students enrolled and initiates a high investment return. Graduating students experience personal and generational improvements in their families — socially, psychologically, and financially, the release said.

Local communities benefit from a highly educated workforce that contributes dollars, leadership, and civic involvement.

The state of Texas advances towards its “60×30” goal where 60% of Texans ages 25-64 receive a postsecondary degree or credential by 2030.

Nationally, businesses and organizations thrive with well-educated employees keeping the United States at the forefront of economic success as a world leader.

The West Texas Emergency Aid Pilot Program operated from fall of 2020 through spring of 2022.

A total of $835,750 was distributed over this time to assist 1,937 students in Odessa College, El Paso Community College, and South Plains College.

Believe in Students has proudly invested more than 2 million dollars in Emergency Aid to students across the United States since 2016.