One Million Degrees

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help address educational disparities. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Comprehensive support services that advance community college completion and ultimate transition to a career or 4-year institution
  • Targets both recent high school graduates and adult learners
  • Services include personal coaching (including regular meetings with coordinators located on community college campuses, workshops, and other events), academic support (such as tutoring), financial support (such as financial incentives or stipends), and professional development (mentoring with area professionals)

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Promising (Third-highest tier)


Promising (Third-highest tier)

One Million Degrees is not yet in any of the major clearinghouses, but has demonstrated positive results in an independent, high-quality evaluation conducted by UChicago Urban Labs

Target population

Students enrolled in post-secondary education

Program cost

$3,000-$4,000 per student

Implementation locations

Dates active


Outcomes and impact

  • Note: The outcomes below reflect early results of an ongoing randomized control trial and should not be interpreted as conclusive.
  • Increase of 35% in full-time enrollment
  • Increase of 47% in full-time persistence to the next school term

Keys to successful implementation

  • Embed a dedicated, full-time Program Coordinator on each campus, who can serve as the main facilitator and primary point of contact for most support services including academic, financial, and professional guidance.
  • Begin recruiting students while they are still in high school through direct efforts and partners with existing relationships to high school student populations.
  • Partner closely with senior college administrators and secure buy-in to support program development and sustainability.
  • Make the application and enrollment process as simple as possible, while also regularly following up with applicants on how to complete their enrollment and onboarding.
  • Keep caseloads between 50-65 students per Program Coordinator, allowing them to prioritize strong personal relationships and targeted individualized supports.
  • Students should meet individually with their Coordinator at least once a month, while higher risk students may meet weekly.
  • Offer regular community programming (with attendance tied to performance-based stipends), such as professional development, financial literacy training, and other opportunities to foster community and accumulate social capital.

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