From performance-based scholarships to financial aid education to emergency funding, MDRC is looking at ways to help low-income students stay in school and complete their studies while balancing academic, family, and employment demands.

The Latest
Issue Focus

The Detroit Promise allows the city’s high school graduates to attend local colleges tuition-free. To that existing scholarship the Detroit Promise Path adds campus coaches, monthly financial support, enhanced summer engagement, and messages informed by behavioral science. Early findings from the first year are positive.

Report

This study examines whether an alternative approach to distributing financial aid — in biweekly payments instead of one or two lump sums — can improve outcomes for low-income community college students. After one semester, the policy reduced students’ debt and use of federal loans but showed little consistent evidence of academic effects.

Key Documents
Issue Focus

Evidence from Three Studies

Results from three random assignment studies at New York City community colleges suggest that year-round financial aid can increase enrollment during the summer and winter sessions — and that summer and winter enrollment can help students earn more credits.

Issue Focus

MDRC’s Aid Like A Paycheck evaluation is testing whether the distribution of financial aid to students in biweekly payments over the course of a term — like a paycheck — can improve academic and financial outcomes for low-income community college students. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the project.

Issue Focus

A Look at MDRC’s Research

How can financial aid be used to improve academic success for low-income college students? Evidence suggests that providing additional financial support to increase students’ enrollment intensity — either increasing the number of credits they take each semester or enrolling in courses during the summer — can boost credit accumulation and may help them complete degrees faster.