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ERIC Number: ED540689
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Nov
Pages: 94
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 15
Can Scholarships Alone Help Students Succeed? Lessons from Two New York City Community Colleges
Patel, Reshma; Rudd, Timothy
The passage of the Higher Education Act of 1965, which extended need-based financial assistance to the general population for the first time, has improved college access for American students, but more work remains to be done to improve college success. According to government statistics, in 2006, about one in six students had earned a degree or certificate three years after beginning their postsecondary education at a two-year institution. Low-income students are particularly at risk of not persisting to complete a certificate or degree--often because of competing priorities, financial pressures, and inadequate preparation for college. Among low-income students, older students have added barriers to postsecondary success. Students in their twenties and thirties often have outside additional obligations such as work and child-care responsibilities. The federal and state grant aid available to adult learners is often not enough to cover education-related costs, such as tuition, books and supplies, transportation, and basic living expenses. Moreover, adult learners in need of developmental education have even greater barriers to academic success, not least among them the extra cost of developmental courses. One promising way to overcome some of these barriers is to offer such students a performance-based scholarship--a need-based grant, contingent on meeting academic benchmarks. The scholarships are designed to help put more money in the hands of low-income students and to provide an incentive for making academic progress. A prior MDRC study of performance-based scholarships as part of Opening Doors Louisiana found that such scholarships could have large impacts on persistence, grades, and credit accumulation. This report presents findings from a random assignment study of performance-based scholarships at two colleges in New York City: the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) and Hostos Community College, both part of the City University of New York (CUNY) system. The program in New York City is part of MDRC's national Performance-Based Scholarship (PBS) Demonstration, launched in 2008 to evaluate whether such scholarships are an effective way to improve academic outcomes among low-income college students. While some of the other programs in the PBS Demonstration (as well as the original Opening Doors study in Louisiana) made the scholarship contingent on students' receiving services such as advising or tutoring, the study in New York was intended to test a bare-bones, scholarship-only program. Appended are: (1) Select Characteristics of Sample Members at Baseline, by Research Group; and (2) Additional Impact Tables. Individual chapters contain footnotes. (Contains 12 tables, 5 figures and 4 boxes.)
MDRC. 16 East 34th Street 19th Floor, New York, NY 10016-4326. Tel: 212-532-3200; Fax: 212-684-0832; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education; Two Year Colleges
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; College Access Foundation of California; Helios Education Foundation; Institute of Education Sciences (ED); Joyce Foundation; Kresge Foundation; NYC Center for Economic Opportunity; Ohio Department of Job and Family Services; Open Society Foundations (OSF); Robin Hood Foundation
Authoring Institution: MDRC
Identifiers - Location: Louisiana; New York
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Higher Education Act 1965
What Works Clearinghouse Reviewed: Meets Evidence Standards without Reservations
IES Cited: ED539899