Today MDRC reported RCT results for ASAP Ohio, which provides academic, personal, & financial support to low-income community college students. Quick take: High-quality RCT with blockbuster results - 15% point gain in college graduation & 11% gain in earnings at the 6-year mark.

Program:

  • ASAP, originally developed by the City University of New York (CUNY), provides academic, personal & financial supports to low-income students to help them earn an associate's degree within 3 years. The program cost in Ohio totals about $9800/student over 3 years (in 2023 dollars).

Study Design:

  • The RCT sample comprised 1,501 low-income students across 3 Ohio community colleges (64% female, 35% Black, 34% first in family to attend college). Based on careful review, this was a high-quality RCT (e.g., baseline balance, negligible attrition, prespecified primary outcomes).

Findings:

  • 6 years after study entry: (i) a 15% point increase in completion of a 2-year or 4-year college degree (44% treatment vs 29% control); (ii) an 11% ($1,948) gain in annual earnings in year six ($19,573 T vs $17,626 C). Both findings were statistically significant.

Comment:

  • The Ohio RCT findings reproduce the large graduation impact (11% points) found in an earlier RCT at CUNY. Together, the results are of great policy significance: ASAP is a proven, replicated tool that colleges nationwide can use to increase graduation of low-income students.

  • I can't over-emphasize how exceptional these results are. Most high-quality RCTs, in higher ed & other areas, show disappointing results. A finding like this is cause to stand & salute. Disclosure: Arnold Ventures, my former employer, funded the ASAP Ohio long-term follow-up.

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