Promoting Full-Time Attendance among Adults in Community College

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This report by MDRC evaluates a New York City program that is targeted at low-income adults ages 22 to 35 who need remedial course work to succeed in community college.

The program is a part of MDRC’s nationwide Performance-Based Scholarship (PBS) Demonstration. The New York City program operated at the Borough of Manhattan Community College and Hostos Community College in 2008 and 2009.

Students who participated were eligible for either a $1,300 scholarship for two consecutive semesters, or for a $1,300 scholarship for two semesters and also a summer term. As part of the requirements for the scholarships, students had to maintain at least part-time enrollment, meet attendance requirements and keep a “C” average across at least six credits.

The PBS evaluation randomly assigned about 1,500 low-income students to one of two program groups eligible for either scholarship, or to a control group eligible for regular financial aid only.

Early results from the transcripts of students from about 60 percent of the total sample size show that the program offering scholarships encouraged more full-time student enrollment.  Even though the scholarship requirements stated that the student only needed part-time attendance, full-time enrollment among the program’s participants increased nearly 8 percent in the first semester and 14 percent in the second semester. This could show that students used the scholarship funds to be able to enroll in more courses.

The average number of regular credits attempted in the first semester was 6.3 for the program group and 5.9 for the control group. The average number of developmental credits attempted during the same semester is 2.3 for the program group and 2.2 for the control group.

The second semester results showed similar outcomes.

The summer semester showed a difference of about 0.4 regular credits for the PBS summer group versus the control group and a difference of about 0.2 developmental credits for the PBS group versus the control group.

The program also resulted in summer funding increasing summer attendance by about 40 percent over the usual 20 percent of students enrolling in such courses.

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