City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (CUNY ASAP)

Updated: Oct 22, 2018
Evidence Rating:
Near Top Tier


  • Program:

    A comprehensive community college program that provides academic, personal, and financial supports to low-income students who need remedial education, with the goal of increasing college graduate rates.

  • Evaluation Methods:

    A well-conducted randomized controlled trial (RCT) with a sample of 896 students at City University of New York’s (CUNY’s) three largest community colleges.

  • Key Findings:

    A sizable, statistically-significant increase in college graduation rates six years after random assignment (51% of ASAP students graduated with a two-year or four-year college degree vs. 41% of the control group).

  • Other:

    A study limitation is that it was conducted in a single site (the CUNY system). Additional RCTs of ASAP in other U.S. locations are currently underway to determine whether the sizable effects at CUNY can be reproduced and whether they generalize to other settings.

ASAP is designed to help low-income community college students with remedial education needs to complete their studies and earn an associate’s degree – if possible, within 3 years. Participation is offered to new students and continuing students who have earned 12 or fewer credits, and is voluntary. Core program components include: (i) required full-time enrollment at CUNY; (ii) a range of resources that ASAP students are required to utilize including an ASAP-dedicated advisor who helps students with academic, social, and interpersonal issues, a career counselor, and tutoring services; (iii) special class scheduling options to ensure that ASAP students secure the classes that they need and that they take remedial classes early in college alongside other ASAP students; and (iv) financial supports such as tuition waivers equal to the difference between students’ tuition/fees and their existing financial aid, as well as MetroCards and free use of textbooks.

In the study described below, the estimated per-student cost of ASAP incurred by CUNY was approximately $16,000 higher than the nearly $26,000 spent by CUNY on non-ASAP students.[1]

Click here for the CUNY ASAP Program website.



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[1] Approximately $14,000 of these extra costs are the expense of providing ASAP program services and $2,000 are a result of the program’s success in keeping students in school and enabling them to complete more courses.

Weiss, M.J., Ratledge, A., Sommo, C., & Gupta, H. (2019). Supporting community college students from start to degree completion: Long-term evidence from a randomized trial of CUNY’s ASAP. American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 11(3), 253-297. Linked here.

Gupta, H. (2017). The power of fully supporting community college students: The effects of the City University of New York’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs after six years. MDRC.

Scrivener, S., Weiss, M. J., Ratledge, A., Rudd, T., Sommo, C., & Fresques, H. (2015). Doubling graduation rates: Three-year effects of CUNY’s Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for developmental education students. New York, NY: MDRC.

Scrivener, S., Weiss, M. J., & Sommo, C. (2012). What can a multifaceted program do for community college students?: Early result from an evaluation of Accelerated Study in Associate Programs (ASAP) for developmental education student. New York, NY: MDRC.

Disclosure: Based on the CUNY ASAP evaluation findings summarized here, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation subsequently funded the delivery and/or evaluation of ASAP programs at other locations, including Westchester Community College in New York and Skyline College in California, and provided co-funding for an ongoing RCT of ASAP in Ohio.