NCAN Demonstrates Benefits of College Access and Success Programs
The National College Access Network (NCAN) has released its third annual benchmarking report, Closing the College Graduation Gap. NCAN represents almost 400 college access and success programs. The benchmarking report provides a baseline for comparison and for measuring the impact of college access and success programs.
The 2016 report demonstrates that college access and success programs contribute to increased college enrollment by low-income students, closing the gap with students from wealthier communities. More than two-thirds of students in the NCAN benchmark enroll in college. However, there is still a gap in college completion rates, although participants in college access and success programs graduate at greater rates than low-income students generally. More than half of students in the 2009 NCAN cohort attained a degree or certificate within six years. But the gap in performance has grown from 5.0 percent in the 2007 cohort and 2.5 percent in the 2008 cohort to 7.3 percent in the 2009 cohort.
The results of this study may have been affected by the economic downturn. It is important that NCAN continue to produce this annual benchmarking study in the future, as it is one of the few sources of reliable data concerning low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students.
An important take-away from the NCAN benchmarking report is that students who enroll in college during the first year after high school graduation are much more likely to graduate than students who enroll two or more years after high school graduation.