Lenoir Community College in rural North Carolina is working to help students access education through a transportation initiative called Cars for College. Thanks to a $250,000 donation to the college’s foundation, working students are given an assist in buying cars at cost for an average of $3,080 so they can get to classes. The foundation buys cars or receives donated vehicles, refurbishing them through the institution’s automotive program. If students need help affording the cars, they tap into the college’s partnership with a local credit union.
Transportation can be a barrier to education for many students, especially those who are working and parenting, reported The Chronicle of Higher Education. And the issue can be even more prevalent at U.S. community colleges, where only 57 percent of main campuses are transit accessible, meaning approximately 600 of these institutions aren’t within walking distance of public transportation, according to the Seldin/Haring-Smith Foundation. “Some students are one flat tire away from dropping out,” Abigail Seldin, the foundation’s CEO and co-founder, told The Chronicle.
At Lenoir Community College, 10 cars have been awarded so far, with the goal of distributing 20 each year for the next three years. In a rural place like Lenoir County with limited public transit, having independent transportation can mean more flexibility when it comes to attending classes, working extra hours at jobs and accessing child care. Plus, it often leads to students getting more sleep because they’re not piecing together their transportation and spending excess time in transit.
Read more about the program here.