MDRC in the News

American Dream Machine

City Journal


Intel cofounder Andy Grove, a City College graduate, once dubbed his alma mater “the American dream machine.” A fascinating new study on the economic mobility of college graduates confirms that the moniker fits City College and the broader City University of New York (CUNY) system…..

…..Still, the Chetty study coincides with a period of revival at CUNY, and two recent initiatives — CUNY Start and the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) — are aimed at further improving low-income students’ college readiness and graduation rates. Both are showing promising results…..

…..A CUNY study found that 62 percent of CUNY Start students passed assessment tests in writing in one semester, while just 26 percent did so in a comparison group; 53 percent of CUNY Start students reached college-level proficiency in mathematics, while just 10 percent did so in a comparison group. Researchers from the education nonprofit MDRC are studying students’ long-term outcomes.

Started in 2007, ASAP helps low-income students who agree to study full-time overcome barriers in their progress toward timely degree completion. The program provides financial support with free MetroCards, textbook vouchers worth $500, and consolidated scheduling to help students balance jobs, family, and school…..

…..CUNY and MDRC studies show that ASAP has doubled three-year associate-degree graduation rates compared with those of similar CUNY students. The current average ASAP three-year graduation rate is 53 percent, versus 24 percent for similar CUNY comparison-group students. The effort does require additional funding—about $3,700 per student per year — but the cost continues to decline as the program reaches economies of scale. A study by Teachers College professor Henry Levin shows that ASAP is cost-beneficial in the long term. In fact, given the low-income status of many CUNY students — half have household income under $30,000 — ASAP could be viewed as one of the city’s most effective antipoverty programs…..

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