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College Promise Programs

Sep 2015 to Present


View the Project

Over the last decade, but especially in the past few years, programs with a “promise” label have been advanced at the local, state, and federal levels. An emerging body of research begins to shed ligh on various aspects of these programs, but too little is known about the full range of program outcomes or the ideal structure or design of programs serving different groups of students. This project is designed to improve research-based knowledge that can inform understanding of how to design and structure a promise program to achieve particular goals and outcomes.


This research is supported in part by Civic Nation (September 2015 - June 2016)


Laura Perna, Penn GSE

Press Coverage 

"New college promise database,” Inside HigherEd, October 25, 2016.


Perna, L.W. (2016, October). Delivering on the promise: Structuring college promise programs to promote higher education attainment for students from underserved groups. Philadelphia, PA: Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy.

Perna, L.W., Leigh, E., & Ruiz, R. (2016, June). Growth, scope and impact of college promise programs. Keynote presentation to Conference on Designing Sustainable Funding for College Promise Initiatives, Educational Testing Service, Princeton, NJ.

Perna, L.W. (2016, August). The college promise movement: Growth, scope and impact. Invited presentation to College Promise in California: Strategies, Challenges, and Successes, Oakland, CA.  

Perna, L.W., Cammack, A., Rauner, M., Sarubbi, M. (2016, November). The landscape and hope of promise programs. Invited panel presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Columbus, OH.

Perna, L.W., & Leigh, E. (2016, November). Understanding the promise: A typology of state and local promise programs. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association for the Study of Higher Education, Columbus, OH.