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Congress Should Support ASAP and Other Student Success Programs

In an op-ed published in The Hill, Kelly McManus, AV’s vice president of higher education, and Shrutika Sabarwal, AV’s director of evidence-based policy point to CUNY’s ASAP and ACE as models for improving graduation rates.

At a time when more than 70 percent of two-year community college students fail to finish their degrees, recent research from MDRC should catch the attention of policymakers hoping to address this striking waste of time, resources, and human potential, Arnold Ventures Vice President of Higher Education Kelly McManus and Director of Evidence-Based Policy Shrutika Sabarwal write in an op-ed in The Hill.

The research looked at the effects of the Accelerated Study in Associates Program, or ASAP, a high-touch model conceived by the City University of New York (CUNY) in 2007. When instituted by three community colleges in Ohio, researchers found a 50 percent increase in graduation rates and an 11 percent boost to post-graduation earnings. 

What the latest Ohio findings mean is that the CUNY pilot program’s success wasn’t a fluke or a one-off: Support programs like this can be used on college campuses across the country to meaningfully improve graduation rates,” McManus and Sabarwal write. What’s more, the benefits aren’t just measurable in diplomas framed on the wall: ASAP students saw higher wages in the workforce, too.” 

ASAP works by providing students with wraparound services, including tuition fee waivers, transportation benefits, book subsidies, and intense advisory support. 

Congress has the opportunity to support ASAP and other data-backed college completion efforts through Postsecondary Student Success Grants, which were included in the Biden administration’s original Build Back Better plan and received broad bipartisan support in 2022

[I]f Washington is serious about addressing the nation’s college attainment cataclysm, programs like ASAP are a solution that deserve public support.” 

Read the full op-ed here: There’s a proven fix for an urgent education problem — Congress should embrace it