MDRC has developed a body of rigorous evidence on interventions designed to help low-income college students succeed. This issue brief draws six lessons from that work for colleges and policymakers as they seek to improve college completion rates.
Testimony Before the California State Assembly Higher Education Committee and the Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance
On February 6, Alex Mayer, MDRC’s Deputy Director of Postsecondary Education, explained to members of two California State Assembly committees that combining and integrating evidence-based strategies to address multiple factors can be highly effective in improving completion rates among low-income college students.
Lessons on Increasing College Completion from Six Talent Dividend Cities
The Talent Dividend competition encouraged major metro areas to find ways to boost their proportions of college graduates. The effort suggests that cross-sector partnerships and interventions that ease students’ transitions to the next level of education hold promise in aiding credit attainment and narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students.
The Effects of the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs After Six Years
The City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) is an uncommonly comprehensive and long-term program shown to raise graduation rates among community college students. Following up after six years, MDRC finds that ASAP increases graduation rates and enables some students to earn their degrees sooner.
This grant program funds semester-long paid internships for college juniors and seniors with financial needs. These part-time opportunities, typically with hourly wages of $10-$14, are intended to provide meaningful experiences connected to students’ career interests. Despite some difficulties, many students had highly positive impressions of the program overall.
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.
Interim Findings on Aid Like A Paycheck
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.
Although most college students receive financial aid, many are left with unmet financial needs and may take on loans or drop out as a result. But promising innovations in financial aid could help students pay for college and accelerate their studies.
Forty percent of all entering college students and over half of entering community college students must take at least one remedial course. Fewer than half make it through developmental education. This two-page Looking Forward memo provides an overview of research evidence in four areas of developmental education reform.