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Three Ohio community colleges in 2014 began adopting versions of a student success program from the City University of New York. The expanding program, dubbed Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP), requires community college students to attend full-time while providing them with a wide array of additional supports, including enhanced advising, special first-year courses, cohort course taking, tutoring, career services, a tuition waiver, textbook assistance and a subsidy for public transportation. While ASAP requires more funding up front, it has paid off with big graduation and retention rate gains, which research has shown pays off for colleges as well as students.

The Ohio community colleges tailored the model to their student populations, including by offering gas cards rather than MetroCards. Previous research has shown gains from the program. The participating institutions are Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, Cuyahoga Community College, and Lorain County Community College.

Newly released results from a random assignment evaluation, conducted by the nonprofit group MDRC, found that the three colleges have nearly doubled three-year graduation rates for participating students while increasing transfers to four-year colleges among participants by 50 percent. Students enrolled in the program also had earned 8.5 more college credits on average compared to those in the control group, the new study found. And positive effects were evident for all subgroups of students in the study, including those who entered college with developmental education requirements.

The direct cost of the Ohio programs was roughly $1,840 more per student, per year, compared to costs for traditional programs. But the large increase in degree completion meant that the cost per degree issued was 22 percent lower for students in the program.

“The continued success of this program is great news for the colleges, for our state and -- most importantly -- for the students,” Randy Gardner, chancellor of Ohio's Department of Higher Education, said in a written statement. “It provides students with the tools and the confidence to help them succeed, to prepare them for the workforce and to make them a vital part of Ohio’s future.”