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Rewarding Persistence

Graduation Fund Pays Off

The challenges of improving college affordability and degree attainment are inexorably linked. So we asked a simple question: Can reward-based funding help drive student persistence and attainment?

Brian W. Jones, Strayer University President

The answer? A resounding yes.

Strayer University’s Graduation Fund rewards bachelor’s students with one class at no cost for every three classes they pass, which over time can reduce the total cost of their degree by 25 percent. The classes are redeemed in the final terms of a student’s program, meaning students who persist through the full program receive their final year of study at no-cost. Results show that this funding model improves student persistence and degree attainment.

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Knowing that with every class I successfully completed I was funding my own education, motivated me throughout my degree program.

Brandon Cooper

Brandon Cooper, Bachelor of Business Administration Student

Reward-Based Funding Model Encourages Student Persistence

Gradfund report

Too many students take on debt, but do not finish their degrees. As a result, many fail to reap the rewards of post-secondary attainment: meaningful employment, higher salary and improved quality of life.

Enter the Graduation Fund, a direct response to the interrelated challenges of both affordability and attainment.

Key Learnings

Since 2013, 6,500 bachelor’s degree students redeemed Graduation Fund credits, for a total of 22,000 classes – at a value of over $30 million in tuition. Results are promising:

  • Improved First-to-Second Year Retention – Student persistence from the first to second year of instruction has improved by 45 percent. This is a promising statistic, as – according to the Lumina Foundation – typically 38 percent of American students with additional financial, work and family obligations leave school in their first year.
  • Improvement Greatest with At-Risk Students – First-to-second year persistence rates among the most at-risk population of students have increased by 80 percent.
  • Improved Confidence – Student surveys show improved student confidence, greater sense of community, and a feeling of being “in control” about their ability to earn tuition benefits through coursework.
  • Preliminary Improvement in Four-Year Retention and Graduation Rate – The number of students who have graduated or are continuing to pursue their bachelor’s degree as of the end of their fourth year of enrollment increased by 29 percent.