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Completion Grants

Unmet financial needs remain a significant barrier to low-income students at urban universities, primarily upon their final years. Led by a team of researchers at Temple University’s Hope Center for Community, College, and Justice, this project seeks to measure the impact of completion grants on credit accumulation and degree completion. Completion Grants are microgrants ($500-$2,000) that universities distribute to support students who: 1) have unmet financial needs, 2) are academically on track to graduate within a year, and 3) have an unpaid university balance. Funded by the US Department of Education, this project is a randomized control trial across 11 public research universities. USU Deputy Executive Director Christel Perkins and Program Coordinator Winston Savoy staff this project.

The pilot phase (2016-2017), examined nine universities as they launched or expanded completion grant efforts. Initial findings showed that 93 percent of recipients were either retained or completed their degrees. The grants also strengthened the infrastructure of institutions serving a significant share of non-traditional, disadvantaged students who are low-income, first-generation, Pell Grant-eligible, and students of color.

The randomized control trial phase (2017-2022) involves 11 institutions implementing and measuring the impact of completion grants.

Arizona State University
University of Colorado Denver
Florida International University
Florida State University
Indiana University -Purdue University Indianapolis
Portland State University
Rutgers University-Newark
University of Illinois at Chicago
University of Memphis
University of North Carolina Charlotte
Virginia Commonwealth University

Initial research findings are expected in 2022.


of grantees were retained or completed their degrees


awarded in completion grants awarded to students at nine universities


total grants distributed

Completion Grants - Lessons From a Pilot Program

A College Affordability Innovation Worthy of Public Investment

Completion Grants: A Multi-Method Examination of Institutional Practice

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