Promise for Whom? “Free-College” Programs and Enrollments by Race and Gender Classifications at Public, 2-Year Colleges

Published Online in:
Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
October 20, 2020

Denisa Gándara, Southern Methodist University 
Amy Li, Florida International University 

Promise programs are proliferating across the United States, with wide variation in their design. Using national data on 33 Promise programs affecting single, 2-year colleges, this study examines program effects on first-time, full-time college enrollments of students by race/ethnicity and gender classification. Results suggest Promise programs are associated with large percent increases in enrollments of Black and Hispanic students, especially students classified as females, at eligible colleges. Promise programs with merit requirements are associated with higher enrollment of White and Asian, Native Hawaiian, or Pacific Islander female students; those with income requirements are negatively associated with enrollment of most demographic groups. More generous Promise programs are associated with greater enrollment increases among demographic groups with historically higher levels of postsecondary attainment.

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Read the press release: "Study: Free-College Programs Have Led to Large Enrollment Increases at Two-Year Institutions, Especially Among Historically Underserved Students.

Preferred Citation: Gándara, D., & Li, A. (2020). Promise for Whom? Free-College Programs and Enrollments by Race and Gender at Public, Two-Year Colleges. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis. Prepublished October 20, 2020.