Counselling and cash improves student retention

At-risk students earned $750 by maintaining at least a 2.0 GPA, among other requirements

A research project underway at three Ontario colleges has shown that the provision of student support services in combination with financial incentives has a marked impact on the persistence of students who are deemed at risk of dropping out.

The study, sponsored by the Canada Millennium Scholarship Foundation and the Ontario government, found that at-risk students who received academic, career and mentoring supports as well as the promise of $750 earned higher grades and were less likely to drop out of their program.

The key findings of the research show the following:

  • One year after the Foundations for Success program began, 67.2 percent of students who received directed advisement to the full range of supports (including academic, career and mentoring supports) and a financial incentive were still enrolled in their program.
  • Almost 65.8 percent of students who received directed advisement to the supports but no financial incentives were still enrolled.
  • Only 62.6 percent of students in the control group (which did not receive direction to supports and did not receive financial incentives) were still enrolled.
  • Adjusting for students who did not participate in any of the Foundations for Success program activities, the increase in retention was 6.4 percent.

Note that the students who received the $750 Foundations for Success fellowship were required to complete 12 hours of activities related to their individual at-risk factors, maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, and remain eligible for full-time enrollment at the start of the following semester.

The full report is available for download here in .pdf format.