College Completion Strategy Guide

The College Completion Strategy Guide—a collaboration among MDRC, the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, The Education Trust, and The Institute for College Access and Success—provides clear policy guidance and summarizes the research on strategies to increase college completion. With this strategy guide, state and system policymakers can advance meaningful change in higher education with evidence-based policy.

Learn more

Filter by topic
J. Luke Wood, Victor B. Sáenz, Emmet Campos

The combination of the COVID-19 pandemic and racial unrest over the last few years has been referred to as the “dual pandemics.” These challenges have contributed to startling college enrollment declines for men of color. This brief shares four strategies that colleges and universities can employ to better support them.

| Populations to Consider
Stella M. Flores

To increase postsecondary and economic opportunity in the United States, policymakers must put the practice and philosophy of equity—the distribution of resources to students and institutions most in need—at the center of program design. This brief discusses three actions state policymakers can take to achieve that goal.

Kate Tromble, Katie Beal

A learning agenda is an outline of a state’s research priorities. This brief discusses how a state can use a learning agenda to direct investments toward proven interventions and foster equitable student success.

Tolani Britton

When high school students can enroll in college courses, they are more likely to enroll in and persist in college; however, access to such opportunities is distributed inequitably. This brief offers recommendations for increasing access to and equity in such courses for students of color and students from low-income backgrounds.

Trey Miller, Paco Martorell

Postsecondary institutions across the country are adopting corequisite remediation—which enrolls students directly into college-level courses and provides them with aligned and concurrent support—as an alternative to stand-alone developmental (remedial) courses. This brief summarizes insights from the latest research.

Michael Steven Williams, Marjorie Dorimé-Williams

Although policymakers and institutions have increasingly disaggregated college completion data by race and gender to create targeted forms of support, the complex and intersecting challenges that Black women face in college often remain overlooked. This brief highlights opportunities to address the challenges Black women face in postsecondary education.

Bryce McKibben , Atif Qarni

Many college students have difficulty meeting their basic needs for food, housing, childcare, and health care, which can interfere with their ability to concentrate on their studies, remain enrolled, and eventually graduate. This brief explores the interventions that can help students meet their basic needs and the emerging evidence behind these interventions.

Education Strategy Group

College students who enroll full time directly after high school are often considered “traditional.” But their experience is not the norm—a large proportion of undergraduate students are older than 24, work full time, or have children. This brief shares recommendations for helping these “posttraditional” learners succeed. 

Sophia Laderman

State higher education funding is strongly linked with college completion. However, states often distribute funding inequitably, providing fewer resources to institutions that predominantly serve students of color and those with low incomes. This brief explores “state finance equity audits,” which states can use to assess and correct inequities in funding.

Austin Slaughter

Leaning on a robust body of evidence, this brief offers suggestions to policymakers, college administrators, and researchers for forecasting the financial impact of new interventions in postsecondary education, based on the interventions’ costs and their ability to keep more students enrolled, generate tuition revenue and state funding, and improve outcomes.

Federick Ngo, Dan Cullinan

Multiple measures assessment is a more reliable method than a single placement test to assess whether incoming students have the literacy and numeracy skills required for college-level courses. This brief summarizes the research on multiple measures assessment and offers recommendations for states interested in its implementation.

Susan Bickerstaff, Erika B. Lewy

A large proportion of students in public colleges are assigned to developmental education, which is intended to prepare them for college-level courses. However, research suggests that colleges’ typical developmental education policies may hinder students’ academic progress. Here are three recommendations for reforming developmental education based on a decade of research.