As part of the effort by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to substantially increase college graduation rates among low income students, BMCC today announced it will receive $1.4 million from MDRC, a nonprofit-, nonpartisan research firm, to participate in a performance-based scholarship study developed by MDRC that will measure the impact of such scholarships on degree completion.
Funding for the BMCC’s participation in the demonstration is made possible, in part, through a grant to MDRC from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation along with support from the Robin Hood Foundation. Hostos Community College in the Bronx is also participating in the MDRC study, along with two and four-year institutions in Ohio, New Mexico and California.
The study will evaluate how performance-based scholarships affect students’ persistence, credit accumulation, grade point average and progress towards a degree.
“Borough of Manhattan Community College has always been very committed to finding innovative ways to help students from low-income backgrounds, and who have faced academic challenges in the past, to make a college education a reality,” said BMCC president Antonio Perez. “Particularly in the face of this troubled economy, it is more important than ever that students earn college degrees and maximize their ability to build a sustainable career. We are very grateful to MDRC for including BMCC in this valuable research.”
BMCC currently has 368 students participating in the study, and is expected to have a total of 1,100 students participate over the next three semesters. Each student will receive up to $1,300 per semester for two semesters, based on his or her academic performance, number of credits taken, and attendance. Using a random assignment research design, MDRC will measure the impact the scholarships have on student performance. The BMCC Foundation will contribute $75,000 towards the scholarships.
To be eligible for the program, students must be between 22 – 35 years of age, not live with their parents, enrolled in at least six credits, eligible for the federal Pell grant, and be in need of at least one remedial/developmental course.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced this week that it will give $69 million grants for programs that will help double the number of low-income students who earn a post-secondary degree or credential by age 26. It identified a major gap between the number of students who are enrolled in college and those who actually graduate. Among low-income students, only 25% graduate, with the rate dropping to about 20% for African-American and Hispanic students.