College students can face a number of barriers and often need a lot of assistance to graduate. In many cases, resources exist for those in need; they just don’t know where to look.
A non-profit organization called Single Stop now is available to Thomas Nelson students, and it will help connect those in need to those who can help.
“A lot of times people just don’t know what’s out there,” said Sonja Vega, the Great Expectations coach at Thomas Nelson. “This is a quick and easy way to determine benefits that you may be eligible for.”
Single Stop’s online screening tool helps students see if they might be eligible for state or federal resources not associated with the College. Vega said it takes 10-15 minutes to fill out the online form, and asks about household size, income, insurance and a few other things.
“It might say you could possibly be eligible for SNAP or health insurance for your child, financial counseling, tax preparation, utility assistance, things of that nature,” she said.
These are not scholarships, and the program is not run by Thomas Nelson. Single Stop helps connect students to local resources.
“Sometimes, students don’t really think of the College as being able to provide additional support,” said Dr. Betsy Harrison, Dean of Student Services.
She said most students look at college just as a place to earn a degree or a credential; that outside of financial aid, loans or FAFSA, there isn’t much more a college can do. But that is too narrow a vision.
“(Students) don’t necessarily think of us for food, for housing, and while we don’t provide housing, Sonja has worked with many students over the last few years to connect them with local housing that they may be able to afford,” Harrison said as an example of Single Stop’s reach.
The program is in place at a number of other VCCS institutions.
“It’s important for us to support our students, and we know that things arise, that sometimes those barriers keep them from completing their education,” Vega said. “Single Stop helps us connect them even better with local, state and federal resources they may be eligible for.”
If it is determined a student might be eligible for a certain program or programs, a notice will be sent to Vega, who will talk further with the student. Harrison is confident this is a much easier process than what was in use because everything is in one place.
Single Stop can be found at tncc.edu/single-stop. The phone number is (757) 825-2825, and the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Once students are allowed back on campus, they will be able to stop by Vega’s office, which is in Room 222 in Griffin Hall. Vegas also will be available to help with Single Stop via zoom.
Harrison said it all comes down to one thing: communication.
“We think we are communicating. We try to communicate, but we don’t always,” she said. “We’re not always able to connect the information that we can share with the people who need it.”
Vega realizes not every student needs Single Stop.
“But we want to make sure we do have tools in place in case our students do need support,” she said. “At the end of the day, we just want to provide support and to remove as many barriers to education as possible to our students. We want them to be successful.”