Fairmount: Single Stop Helps Community College Students
Single Stop opened its doors to the students of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) last October. The program is a partnership between CCP and Single Stop USA, a nonprofit organization based in New York. It provides CCP students with a variety of resources regarding federal financial issues, such as tax preparation, government benefit screening and application, and financial and legal counseling.
Paula Umaña, the director of Single Stop at CCP, described the program as a one-stop place where students can get all the assistance they need.
“It’s about an experience,” she said. “Students come here looking for one or multiple things, but our goal is to connect them with multiple benefits. So if they come here looking to apply for food stamps, we have conversations about health care, taxes … to make sure that when whey walk out the door, they have a plan of action.”
Most recently, Single Stop has begun holding health care enrollment sessions for students. “Because of all the need that has been pressing around the Affordable Care Act, I decided that it was important for us to bring in some help from experts,” Umaña said.
After spending some time researching and trying to work through the system herself, Umaña realized how difficult the process could be.
“Navigating through the system is not the easiest,” she said. “I started playing with the system … I tried to see if I could get to a good plan, which was not the case. … There were so many bumps in the road when they launched the marketplace that I think that also made people hesitate about their ability to do it.”
Single Stop partnered with a nonprofit organization called The Health Federation, which receives funds from the federal government, to assist students as they navigate HealthCare.gov and the marketplace for health insurance. CCP has also received assistance from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. These two programs have brought navigators to the college to hold sessions, provide information and assist students in enrollment.
Since enrollment sessions began in late January, Single Stop has assisted nearly 200 students, and 40 percent have been able to enroll in plans that work for them.
“It’s been a tremendous experience to see how many students are really concerned, and a huge opportunity to educate those who don’t find it on their priority list,” Umaña said.