Two women and a man in business attire sit together at a table.
Susanne Harnett, Jing Zhu, and Michael Scuello prepare to present the findings from a multi-year impact study of Single Stop’s programming at the Community College of Philadelphia.

Positive Outcomes for First-time College Students

A rigorous study of Single Stop USA’s work in Philadelphia showed positive results.

A college education has become increasingly critical for success in today’s workplace. Yet, while more than 20 million students enroll in college every year, over 40% will drop out. A key reason for this drop out rate relates to finance. In fact, income is the number one predictor of college graduation. Aware of these important statistics, Single Stop USA, a national nonprofit dedicated to reducing poverty, established offices on community college campuses to provide students with screening for and access to a wide range of resources, including government benefits and free legal, financial, and tax preparation services, all in one location.

In 2013, Single Stop USA opened on the campus of the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP), which serves over 30,000 students. Interested in whether these services would impact on students’ college achievement, persistence, and graduation rates, Single Stop USA contracted Metis to conduct a rigorous quasi-experimental study using propensity score matching to examine program impacts. The study examined impacts for two groups of students, first-time college (FTIC) and non-first time college (non-FTIC) students. An implementation study was also conducted to provide context for the quantitative findings and to offer best implementation practices and recommendations for program changes.

Metis’s findings were highly positive. Specifically, throughout the evaluation—spanning three-and-a-half academic years— confirmatory analyses showed that FTIC students had statistically significantly higher GPAs, higher ratios of completed to attempted degree bearing credits, and higher rates of persistence than matched groups of similarly situated students. Further, while non-FTIC students were not the focus of the evaluation of long-term outcomes, confirmatory analyses for near- and intermediate-term outcomes showed that these students also achieved statistically significant gains greater than their matched counterparts across all outcomes except for weighted GPAs. The relative consistency of these statistically significant findings across outcomes for both student groups indicates the overall effectiveness of the Single Stop program in achieving its key results. Overall, CCP staff and faculty, as well as the students themselves, reported that the program had substantial impacts on them, allowing them to continue in college when it might not otherwise have been possible. For more information, please contact Susanne Harnett at