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College Promise Programs and Alternative Tuition Strategies in Pennsylvania and Beyond

December 07, 2023  | Education

College “Promise” programs have spread rapidly across the higher education landscape over the past two decades, but there is little consensus about what they are or how they work. This research report introduces these programs, discusses prior research findings about their effects, and conducts empirical analyses using several data sources. At the national level, the study finds a positive effect of Promise programs on enrollment, particularly of first-year students, but not on retention. For one local program this research examines in-depth, Tamaqua’s Morgan Success Scholarship, results suggest strong effects both on “democratization” (increasing overall college-going) and “diversion” (routing students from four-year colleges/degrees to two-year colleges/degrees), though the latter fades over time. For the Community College of Philadelphia’s 50th Anniversary Scholars Program, the study finds no effect on college-going or on community college enrollment.

Executive Summary

Tags:  college students , community college , school enrollment , financial aid , promise programs , college access , place-based scholarships , college completion

Introducing the Center's new journal, Rural Policy: The Research Bulletin of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania.