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Accelerating Community College Graduation Rates: A Benefit–Cost Analysis

Levin, Henry M.; García, Emma

This article reports a benefit–cost evaluation of the Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) of the City University of New York (CUNY). ASAP was designed to accelerate associate degree completion within 3 years of degree enrollment at CUNY’s community colleges. The program evaluation revealed that the completion rate for the examined cohort increased from 24.1% to 54.9%, and cost per graduate declined considerably (Levin & Garcia, 2012; Linderman & Kolenovic, 2012). The returns on investment to the taxpayer include the benefits from higher tax revenues and lower costs of spending on public health, criminal justice, and public assistance. For each dollar of investment in ASAP by taxpayers, the return was $3 to $4. For each additional graduate, the taxpayer gained an amount equal to a certificate of deposit with a value of $146,000 (net of the costs of the investment). Based on these estimated returns, a cohort of 1,000 students enrolled in ASAP would generate net fiscal benefits for the taxpayer of more than $46 million relative to enrolling in the conventional degree program. ASAP results demonstrate that an effective educational policy can generate returns to the taxpayer that vastly exceed the public investment required.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Economics and Education
Published Here
October 6, 2017
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