PennAHEAD Launches College Promise Database

Monday, October 24, 2016

The database allows policymakers, researchers, and journalists to search and analyze College Promise programs across the country.

Media Contact: 

Jeff Frantz, Penn GSE Associate Director of Communications

215-898-3269 | 

*Note for TV and radio: The University of Pennsylvania has an on-campus ISDN line and ready access to a satellite uplink facility with live-shot capability.

At a time when questions about college affordability are at the center of American policy debates, the number of College Promise programs is expanding dramatically. These programs which ‘promise’ a financial or other type of award to eligible students who attend specified schools and/or reside in particular communities to enter and complete higher education, have nearly tripled in the last year, to 150 in 37 states.

 Laura Perna, Executive Director of the Alliance for Higher Education and Democracy at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education (PennAHEAD), and her team of students have created a new tool that will allow policymakers, researchers, and journalists to easily search and compare programs. PennAHEAD’s database, created with support from the College Promise Campaign, tracks program characteristics including nature and characteristics of the promised award, student eligibility requirements, program location, and more. An interactive map also captures much of this data.

 “We hope communities and states can use this data to inform decisions about designing and structuring College Promise programs,” Perna said. “We think the database will also provide a foundation of information for researchers and journalists seeking to answer important questions about how these programs can live up to their promise and help more students from underserved groups attend and complete college.”

 Perna and PennAHEAD are also releasing their first report on College Promise programs across the nation.

Perna is one of the nation’s leading researchers on college access and affordability, and a past president of the Association for the Study of Higher Education. The database and report are part of a larger PennAHEAD effort to understand which Promise programs are succeeding, and what structures enable more underserved students to earn degrees.   

 The searchable online database is being released in conjunction with the College Promise Program’s PromiseNet2016 conference in Washington, D.C., where Perna will join educators, policy makers, community leaders, researchers, and others to discuss how to create and expand College Promise programs to boost college access, affordability and attainment across the nation.

 About the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn GSE)

Penn GSE is one of the nation’s premier research education schools. No other education school enjoys a university environment as supportive of practical knowledge building as the Ivy League’s University of Pennsylvania. The School is notably entrepreneurial, launching innovative degree programs for practicing professionals, unique partnerships with local educators, and the first-ever business plan competition devoted exclusively to educational products and programs. For further information about Penn GSE, please visit





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