MDRC in the News

How Congress Can Move the Needle on College Completion

Commentary by Michelle Dimino and Alyssa Ratledge 

Higher Ed Dive


If ever there has been a moment to talk about college completion, it’s now, as Congress considers a first-of-its-kind grant fund for retention and completion initiatives. A College Completion Fund would be a landmark federal investment in getting students across the finish line to a college degree…..

…..Today, only six in 10 students complete a bachelor’s degree within six years, and only one in three community college students complete an associate degree within three years. More than one million borrowers, many with college debt but no degree, default on their student loans each year…..

…..The results from studies conducted by MDRC and other researchers have coalesced around a clear finding: The most effective way to increase college graduation rates is through multifaceted student support programs that simultaneously address many common barriers to success and do so throughout a student’s college career…..

…..the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, model designed and developed by the City University of New York system and replicated in a wide variety of settings from Ohio to West Virginia to California. The ASAP model offers students high-touch case-management advising, tutoring, financial support including textbook coverage and monthly transportation assistance, consolidated course schedules, and more to help them stay in college, enroll full time, and earn more credits. This program has been shown in two rigorous evaluations to dramatically increase graduation rates for low-income community college students. The three-year completion rate rose by 18 percentage points in New York to 40% and by 16 percentage points in Ohio to 35%. Notably, ASAP serves students for three full years, continuing to address their needs through to graduation…..

Full Article