Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS)

Last Updated: Spring 2023

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Scaling Up College Completion Efforts for Student Success (SUCCESS) is an initiative launched in 2019 by MDRC. This work seeks to improve graduation rates for traditionally underserved students at two- and four-year colleges, by helping states and institutions align their resources with evidence-driven practices. The initiative  combines components from multiple programs that have proven themselves to be effective at helping students succeed in college. It seeks to create financially sustainable programs that will dramatically improve graduation rates at scale.

SUCCESS programs are built around elements derived from more than 15 years of postsecondary research conducted by MDRC and others. These program components include:

  • frequent proactive advising
  • financial incentives tied to service usage
  • strategies focused on increasing academic momentum such as requiring full-time enrollment or encouraging summer/winter enrollment
  • use of real-time data to support student progress.

MDRC initially partnered with 13 colleges across five states—California, Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, and Ohio—and their state higher education agencies to develop and implement financially sustainable student support programs. Participating states and institutions have aligned SUCCESS programs with existing statewide student success initiatives and focused on specific student populations, such as students from low-income families and students of color.

MDRC is conducting a random assignment evaluation, implementation research, and a cost study to understand the effectiveness of SUCCESS. By disseminating the results and providing additional technical assistance, MDRC is supporting the expansion of SUCCESS within and beyond the initial states and colleges.



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