college promise

UPenn launches College Promise database

Database lets policymakers and researchers search and analyze College Promise programs nationwide

College affordability has been a focal point of President Obama’s presidency, and it remains a large issue in the 2016 presidential campaign and in policy debates across the nation.

As a result, the number of College Promise programs is expanding dramatically. These programs, which ‘promise’ a financial or other type of award to eligible students who attend specified schools and/or reside in particular communities to enter and complete higher education, have nearly tripled in the last year, to 150 in 37 states.

Now, a new database from the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PennAHEAD) allows policymakers, researchers, and journalists to easily search and compare programs.

The online tool comes from Laura Perna, PennAHEAD’s executive director, and her team of students.

PennAHEAD’s database, created with support from the College Promise Campaign, tracks program characteristics including nature and characteristics of the promised award, student eligibility requirements, program location, and more. An interactive map also captures much of this data.

“We hope communities and states can use this data to inform decisions about designing and structuring College Promise programs,” Perna said. “We think the database will also provide a foundation of information for researchers and journalists seeking to answer important questions about how these programs can live up to their promise and help more students from underserved groups attend and complete college.”

Perna and PennAHEAD also are releasing their first report on College Promise programs across the nation.

Perna is one of the nation’s leading researchers on college access and affordability, and is a past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education.

The database and report are part of a larger PennAHEAD effort to understand which Promise programs are succeeding, and what structures enable more underserved students to earn degrees.

The searchable online database is being released in conjunction with the College Promise Program’s PromiseNet2016 conference in Washington, D.C., where Perna will join educators, policy makers, community leaders, researchers, and others to discuss how to create and expand College Promise programs to boost college access, affordability and attainment across the nation.

Laura Ascione