From performance-based scholarships to financial aid education to emergency funding, MDRC is looking at ways to help low-income students stay in school and complete their studies while balancing academic, family, and employment demands.

The Latest
Brief

This brief summarizes recent findings about the rollout of the federal emergency aid program for higher education during the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers recommendations and resources for policymakers and practitioners interested in developing or implementing future programs in a time of national crisis as well as in more stable times.

Issue Focus

Financial aid reduces dropout rates, yet college students are unaware of many financial resources available to them. The 2021 American Rescue Plan Act requires colleges to tell students they can apply for more aid. These evidence-based strategies can help schools create effective messages about aid to get positive responses.

Key Documents
Issue Focus

Evidence from Three Studies

Results from three random assignment studies at New York City community colleges suggest that year-round financial aid can increase enrollment during the summer and winter sessions — and that summer and winter enrollment can help students earn more credits.

Issue Focus

MDRC’s Aid Like A Paycheck evaluation is testing whether the distribution of financial aid to students in biweekly payments over the course of a term — like a paycheck — can improve academic and financial outcomes for low-income community college students. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about the project.

Issue Focus

A Look at MDRC’s Research

How can financial aid be used to improve academic success for low-income college students? Evidence suggests that providing additional financial support to increase students’ enrollment intensity — either increasing the number of credits they take each semester or enrolling in courses during the summer — can boost credit accumulation and may help them complete degrees faster.