Evaluating the Impact of Proactive Mentorship for Low-Income College Students

Last registered on May 06, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Evaluating the Impact of Proactive Mentorship for Low-Income College Students
Initial registration date
August 15, 2023

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
August 16, 2023, 11:51 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Last updated
May 06, 2024, 3:03 PM EDT

Last updated is the most recent time when changes to the trial's registration were published.


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Primary Investigator

University of Notre Dame

Other Primary Investigator(s)

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Many college students in the United States, especially first-generation college students and those from low income backgrounds, face numerous barriers that prevent them from completing their intended course of study. 10,000 Degrees is a nonprofit that seeks to address this completion crisis and promote educational equity by serving primarily low-income and first generation students of color from the San Francisco Bay Area through its College Success Program. Participants in this program receive a scholarship and have access to additional resources including group events, scholarship-related reminders, answers to their questions, and referral to on-campus support. Traditionally, participants have also had access to on-demand mentoring from a College Success Fellow. However, not all students utilize these available mentoring services, and many who do may only attend one or two mentoring meetings. In this project, we will partner with 10,000 Degrees to study the effect of a more proactive, intensive mentorship model as part of the College Success Program. This study will use a randomized controlled trial design to compare the outcomes of scholarship recipients who receive the standard scholarship and services with no mentorship with those of recipients who receive proactive mentoring along with the scholarship and services. The study will enroll 1000 students over two years of enrollment, with 500 individuals assigned to the treatment group and 500 assigned to the control group. The sample will include College Success scholarship recipients, selected based on family income and being from a partner region or high school, who accept their award and enroll full time in a four-year college. The intervention will last until four years after the second year of study enrollment. We hypothesize that proactive, intensive mentoring will measurably improve these students’ outcomes, including rates of full-time enrollment, persistence from first to second year of college, bachelor’s degree completion within four years, and students’ debt after college. The study will also investigate whether any treatment effects vary across groups of students and will compare the costs and benefits associated with intensive mentoring. Proactive mentoring is time- and cost-intensive. However, if it is shown to be effective, implementing this service may be worthwhile for 10,000 Degrees and other nonprofits.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Kroeger, Sarah. 2024. "Evaluating the Impact of Proactive Mentorship for Low-Income College Students." AEA RCT Registry. May 06. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.11929-3.0
Experimental Details


Previous research has demonstrated the positive impact of support for college student success that expands beyond traditional scholarship, including intensive mentoring and advising programs (Fulcher et al. 2021). However, many of these studies focus on students attending two-year colleges or on programs implemented by specific colleges. This study will fill a gap in the literature by using experimental methods to isolate the impact of proactive, intensive, near-peer mentorship in a four-year setting.
All students in the study will receive the College Success scholarship to help them cover their educational expenses. They will be able to attend group events held by 10,000 Degrees and will receive virtual scholarship reminders. They will also be able to contact 10,000 Degrees’ scholarship team to ask questions and be directed to the appropriate on-campus support. The intervention we will study will consist of proactive, intensive mentoring from 10,000 Degrees College Success Fellows offered to students randomized into the treatment group. College Success Fellows will be recent college graduates, many from similar backgrounds as participating students, who are employed full-time by 10,000 Degrees. Fellows will begin working with students before the first semester of their first year of college. Fellows will text, call, and meet one-on-one with their assigned students in the treatment group to provide them with guidance, encouragement, and information in support of their college success. When possible, Fellows will conduct outreach in person. Fellows will attempt to help students navigate the complex transition to college, succeed personally and academically, find the resources they need, and ultimately persist through college and to graduation.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Our primary outcomes of interest are full-time college enrollment each semester, persistence from first to second year of college, and four-year graduation rate.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Four-year graduation rate will be the rate of students completing their bachelor’s degree within four years, which will be measured using data from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
We plan to measure students’ debt after college as a secondary outcome using data from Experian.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This study evaluates the impact of providing proactive, intensive advising to 10,000 Degrees’ College Success scholarship recipients on persistence and degree completion. 10,000 Degrees recruits applicants to its College Success scholarship program through partnership with a network of highschools throughout the California Bay area. 10,000 degrees awards funding by prioritizing students from partner schools or in their partner regions, and with financial need as measured by Expected Family Contribution. Students who have been offered and accepted the College Success scholarship and are eighteen years old or older will be enrolled in the study at the time that they accept their award. Students are required to confirm their full-time enrollment status in a 4-year degree program to accept the award. Students are notified of their award in the spring semester of their senior year of high school and can accept the funding at any point after that. About half accept the scholarship before they turn 18. Eligible students who have accepted their award will be randomized in batches monthly starting in August of the fall semester. If students are younger than eighteen when they accept their award, they will be enrolled in the study and randomized after they turn eighteen. Students will be randomized within race groups (White/Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Indigenous/ Multi-Racial, and Black/Middle Eastern/North African) and gender (Identifies as female, Does not identify as female). Approximately half the participants in each subgroup will be assigned to the treatment group. Treatment status does not affect the size of the financial aid awarded, which will be equal for all recipients (around $1,200-1,500 annually). Individuals in the treatment group will receive mentoring support from a designated 10,000 Degrees Fellow who will provide proactive, intensive coaching, including calling, texting, in-person outreach, and one-on-one meetings that will focus on overcoming obstacles to degree completion. The control group will receive the business as usual basic support that primarily relates to receiving their financial aid award. In cases when the control group requests additional support, they will be referred to their specific college staff.
We have received approval to waive consent for participation in the RCT. However, 10,000 degrees plan to administer student surveys at the beginning of the school year and students will give consent for their survey responses to be used for research purposes.
Outcomes of interest will include year over year persistence, bachelor’s degree completion, and debt levels. We will use administrative records including data from the National Student Clearinghouse and Experian.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Computer (Stata)
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the individual. Randomization will take place in monthly batches, within race (White/Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Indigenous/Multi-Racial, and Black/Middle Eastern/North African) and gender (Female/Transgender Women, all other genders).
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1000 scholarship recipients
Sample size: planned number of observations
1000 scholarship recipients
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
500 scholarship recipients receiving proactive mentoring
500 scholarship recipients not receiving proactive mentoring
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Our target sample size is 1000 scholarship recipients, with 500 receiving proactive mentoring and 500 not receiving proactive mentoring. Assuming a baseline four-year graduation rate among scholarship recipients of 66%, our minimum detectable effect will be 7.4 percentage points (intention to treat effect size).
Supporting Documents and Materials

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Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
The University of Notre Dame Institutional Review Board
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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