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Study at PCC of Performance-Based Scholarships Shows Promise

November 20, 2013

Low-income Latino males benefit from a combination of aid sources, robust student services

Tucson, AZ – Performance-based scholarships and robust student services, provided in addition to needs-based funding, improve academic achievement among low-income Latino male college students, early findings from a study at Pima Community College indicate.

Students participating in the Adelante Performance Awards Program got better grades, earned more credits and were more likely to attend PCC full time, according to the study.

“The value of the Adelante program is that it connected our students to PCC’s quality student services, which facilitated the necessary infrastructure for student success,” said Frank Velásquez Jr., the program coordinator of Adelante. “The lessons our College has learned by participating in Adelante can be the blueprint as we work to increase the success of all of our students.”

Since Fall 2010, more than 1,000 PCC students, ranging in age from 18 to the mid-50s, have participated in Adelante, which focuses on Latino males, whose community college completion rate lags behind white students and Latino females. The students pursued a wide range of degrees and certificates, including Engineering, Automotive Technology, Radiologic Technology and Psychology.

The Adelante students were eligible for awards of up to $1,500 per semester for a maximum of three semesters. The payments were backloaded, with $150 paid at Adelante orientation, $150 at mid-semester and up to $1,000 at the end of the semester, depending on the number of credits earned with a grade of C or better, and on participation in tutoring, academic workshops and pláticas, student-driven discussion groups about obstacles students face and how they overcome them.

The study compared Adelante students to a control group comprising Latino male students who were eligible for other PCC aid programs and services. The study found the following improvements between the first and second semesters of the three-semester program:

  • Adelante students were more likely to complete 12 or more credits, a full-time course load, with a C or better. The improvement over the control group was 29.4 percent.
  • Adelante had a small but positive effect on semester-to-semester retention.
  • Adelante increased full-time enrollment in the second semester. Part-time attendance correlates with lower year-to-year persistence by community college students.
  • Adelante students earned almost two full credits more than the control group over the first year of the program.

“Overall, the early findings from the first two of three semesters of the program are promising,” said Gordon L. Berlin, president of MDRC, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization conducting and funding the program through a consortium of private foundations. “The program has increased full-time enrollment and credit accumulation over the first two semesters.”

The MDRC plans to issue a future report containing data about all three semesters of the program. Adelante was part of a nationwide MDRC study of the value of performance-based scholarships. Other student cohorts came from varied backgrounds at educational institutions across the U.S., ranging from single parents in Ohio to adult learners in New York. 

C.J. Karamargin
Vice Chancellor for Public Information and Federal Government Relations
(520) 206-4850