CUNY’s successful Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) initiative, a comprehensive program that has significantly boosted associate degree graduation rates, should be considered as a model for a national higher-education policy to fight poverty through educational attainment, according to an article co-authored by CUNY ASAP leaders and the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity.

“Bringing ASAP to national scale could be a transformative anti-poverty strategy with broad social and economic effects,” the article states. “Millions of students attend America’s community colleges every year with aspirations to create a better life for themselves and their families by earning a college degree. They deserve nothing less than the country’s collective best efforts to help them realize these goals building on proven, evidence-based practice.”

Published in the RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of Social Sciences, the article, “Postsecondary Pathways Out of Poverty: City University of New York Accelerated Study in Associate Programs and the Case for National Policyis co-authored by Diana Strumbos, Director for Research and Evaluation for ASAP; Donna Linderman, Interim Associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; and Carson C. Hicks, Deputy Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office for Economic Opportunity. The article details a set of policy recommendations based on ASAP that could be implemented at a national scale.

“ASAP is an extraordinary program that has worked so well at CUNY that we are expanding it to 25,000 students by the 2018-19 academic year, are converting Bronx Community College to an ASAP institution for first-time, full-time freshmen, and have piloted a promising senior college version based on ASAP principles, Accelerate Complete Engage (ACE), at John Jay College for Criminal Justice, said Chancellor James B. Milliken.

“This proposal to recognize ASAP as the national model for attacking unacceptably low community-college graduation rates nationwide is an important and sensible contribution to efforts to fight poverty and increase college completion, which directly correlates to economic opportunity.”

The article’s authors note that the U.S. Department of Education has recognized ASAP as “an example of a promising intervention to increase low-income student success,” and say that members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce announced a bill in September 2017, the Community College Student Success Act, to fund community colleges to “develop and implement programs modeled after ASAP to improve degree completion.” A national-level policy based on the ASAP model could be funded in several ways, including federal grants, that states or institutions could seek to implement or adapt ASAP-like programs, according to the article.

ASAP has sharply increased three-year associate degree attainment. The article notes that an analysis of the most recent five cohorts – Fall 2009, Spring 2010, Fall 2010, Fall 2011, and Fall 2012 – found that ASAP students had a three-year graduation rate of 52.4 percent, 25.6 percentage points higher than the comparison group’s rate of 26.8 percent. At CUNY overall, the systemwide, three-year graduation rate at the community colleges has risen to 21.9% (Fall 2013 cohort) from 13.3% in the year before ASAP launched (Fall 2006 cohort), in part due to the growth and success of ASAP.

The City University of New York is the nation’s leading urban public university. Founded in 1847, CUNY counts 13 Nobel Prize and 23 MacArthur (“Genius”) grant winners among its alumni.  CUNY students, alumni and faculty have garnered scores of other prestigious honors over the years in recognition of historic contributions to the advancement of the sciences, business, the arts and myriad other fields. The University comprises 24 institutions: 11 senior colleges, seven community colleges, William E. Macaulay Honors College at CUNY, CUNY Graduate Center, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, CUNY School of Law, CUNY School of Professional Studies and CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy. The University serves more than 272,000 degree-seeking students. CUNY offers online baccalaureate and master’s degrees through the School of Professional Studies.