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.
In this commentary, originally published in Community College Daily, MDRC’s Alyssa Ratledge draws on years of research to make the case for the importance of adding robust support services to free tuition programs at community colleges.
A Synthesis of Post-Program Effects in Higher Education
Some education programs’ early positive effects disappear over time, while other programs have unanticipated positive long-term effects. This Issue Focus introduces The Higher Education Randomized Controlled Trials, an examination of program effects after a postsecondary education program ends, using a database drawn from 31 MDRC projects, sampling 67,400 students.
When Washington state’s Division of Child Support closed its offices in March 2020 in response to COVID-19, its employment program—Families Forward Washington—kept running with minimal interruption, because the original design was based on working remotely. Its model may offer useful pointers for other service agencies for adapting to the pandemic.
In this commentary, originally published in Community College Daily, President Marcia Ballinger of Lorain County Community College describes how Lorain’s comprehensive student success program, SAIL, has persevered during the pandemic — and offered lessons for school’s overall response to COVID-19.
In this commentary, which originally appeared in Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity, MDRC’s Alex Mayer and Alyssa Ratledge describe evidence-backed strategies that colleges can employ this fall to help students stay engaged.
Adapting the Evidence for 2020 and Beyond
MDRC has studied a number of strategies for helping students stay in college and succeed there. Lessons from some of these models may be readily adapted to support students and close equity gaps now and after the COVID-19 pandemic. This Issue Focus offers three lessons taken from MDRC’s evaluations.
Students navigating the COVID-19 pandemic are facing new practical and financial concerns about continuing their studies. Colleges can encourage continued enrollment and boost student success by sending well-designed messages that address those concerns, simplify information, and offer support. This Issue Focus highlights proven strategies for communicating effectively.
Providing Remote Support Services to College Students
SUCCESS, a comprehensive coaching program designed to improve college graduation rates among low-income students, has quickly transitioned during the pandemic. It is offering virtual advising appointments, adapting meeting topics to include tips for distance learning, and connecting students with local resources including food, health care, and emergency financial aid.
Toward Better College Completion Rates
MDRC has developed a body of rigorous evidence on interventions designed to help low-income college students succeed. This issue brief draws six lessons from that work for colleges and policymakers as they seek to improve college completion rates.