Open Menu Close Menu

Student Success

College Promise Project to Promote Success Factors Beyond Tuition and Fees

Last summer, a brief report issued by MDRC shared the successful results of a College Promise program in Detroit. Though a combination of financial support, campus coaching, coverage of a portion of living expense, access to summer jobs and use of data to track student participation in classes, the program saw a "sizable impact" on continuation of students from one semester to the next and on the number of courses they tackled. Full-time enrollment for a program group of students increased by 15 percentage points compared to control group, and enrollment continuation grew by 11.5 points.

As the report suggested, Promise programs can see greater success when they address the many barriers low-income students face to college achievement, beyond just covering tuition and fees.

That's the idea behind the launch of the "College Promise Success Initiative," a joint project of MDRC, the College Promise Campaign and the State Higher Education Executive Officers Association, which aims to expand the support provided to students in College Promise programs. The College Promise programs, which number above 200, provide financial support to pay tuition and fees. While Promise programs have received bipartisan support from state and local policymakers to improve student access to college, they rarely also address other elements of "college success" — and the new initiative will work to change that.

In Detroit, MDRC teamed up with the Detroit Regional Chamber in creating the Detroit Promise Path, which added those extra student success components to the existing Detroit Promise scholarship. That work will continue, but under the new program, similar initiatives will also begin with the Los Angeles Community College District, the Community College of Rhode Island, the Flint Promise, the Richmond (California) Promise and Portland Community College.

And starting this spring, MDRC will run a series of open-access webinars covering topics based on its many years of research in postsecondary education. The nonprofit also intends to release open source tools this year and expects to publish reports and best practices beginning in 2019.

The intent with those programs is for Promise schools to learn from MDRC and its partners how to strengthen their operations, support specific populations of students and apply best practices in areas such as behavioral science and student services.

"Recognizing that funding tuition and fees must be coupled with high-impact teaching and student support practices, the College Promise Campaign is pleased to support MDRC's new College Promise Success Initiative to provide evidence-based strategies and tools to increase degree and certificate completion for hardworking students," said Martha Kanter, executive director of the College Promise Campaign, in a prepared statement.

Anchor funding is coming from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates. The Detroit work receives support from the Ford Foundation, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and the Kellogg Foundation. Work with Los Angeles is funded by a grant from the state of California.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

comments powered by Disqus