Giving Compass' Take:

• Brian A. Jacob, writing for EducationNext, describes the success of the ASAP program, which focuses on helping more community college students finish their degree programs. 

• The article notes that ASAP's model requires institutional capacity. This may be an opportunity for donors to get involved with local schools.

• Read about the CUNY ASAP program in New York. 

Only 20 percent of students who enroll in community college will earn a degree within 3 years. In poor, urban areas, the rates are even lower.

The ASAP program seeks to address multiple barriers to community college completion simultaneously. Students in the program must enroll full time in an Associate Degree program. They receive free tuition and textbooks as well as a MetroCard to access the city’s subway and bus system. They attend classes in cohorts designed to provide a sense of community, and are provided with frequent, personalized advising and (if necessary) tutoring.

As described last year in Evidence Speaks, the program was wildly successful. A randomized control trial conducted by MDRC found that ASAP doubled the three-year graduation rate, from 22 percent to 40 percent.

The model requires considerable institutional capacity. Schools must devote real resources to develop, implement and run the program.

On average, earning an associate degree has a big economic payoff. Students who complete an associate degree earn $5,000-$7,000 more per year compared with observationally similar students who enter a two-year college but do not graduate.

Read the full article on ASAP by Brian A. Jacob at EducationNext.