MDRC in the News

An Ohio Experiment Boosted Graduation Rates and Earnings for Community College Students. Here’s How.

Higher Ed Dive


Public community colleges are often hailed as engines of economic and social mobility for low- and middle-income students, as they tend to be more accessible and less expensive than their four-year and private counterparts.

But the completion rate at two-year public institutions is low. Among community college students who first enrolled in 2016, 43.1% graduated within six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center…..

…..Beginning in 2014, three of Ohio’s community colleges worked with their state’s higher education department, the research firm MDRC and CUNY to customize and implement a version of the system’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs, or ASAP, which focuses on comprehensive advising and financial support…..

…..“As with any very successful program, the next question is, does it work elsewhere? Can we scale it? Can we replicate that?” said Colin Hill, postsecondary education research analyst at MDRC. “This is particularly important given that CUNY is pretty unique as an extremely large system in an extremely large city.”

A recent study of 1,500 Ohio community college students suggested the success could be replicated. 
After six years, students in Ohio’s version of ASAP were more likely than their non-ASAP peers to earn a degree, enroll in a four-year college and have higher average earnings, according to a report from MDRC. What’s more, researchers are optimistic that ASAP can be customized to different regions while still maintaining the original’s strong student outcomes……