Bottom Line

We have long supported Bottom Line’s college success program in catalytic ways, which has allowed for its steady growth; it now serves over 2,500 first-generation New York City college students across all five boroughs and 1,700 college students at 21 colleges across the state who come from low-income backgrounds and are attending a select group of four-year CUNY, SUNY, and private colleges. Our grants have included catalytic board match challenges as well as the first “pay for success” college persistence program in New York, which involved Bottom Line and Lehman College, a senior college in the CUNY system. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Lehman pulled out of the effort, but the Foundation refused to abandon the students the program was serving and has continued to fund it. Our support further catalyzed a cost-sharing partnership between Bottom Line and College of Staten Island (CSI), in which CSI has agreed to pay a large percentage of the costs for every student who remains enrolled at CSI.

Bottom Line fills a gaping hole in the suite of college-focused programs in New York City by focusing on successful college completion in addition to college access support. Bottom Line targets mid-achieving students who are not necessarily accessing top-tier institutions of higher education. These students are realizing exceptional college persistence rates thanks to Bottom Line’s hands-on guidance at its partner colleges in or near New York City.

Since launching in 2011, Bottom Line has achieved remarkable success:

  • 79% of all students in the College Success Program have graduated from college or are on track to graduate within six years.
  • Cohorts currently in college are on track to cut the expected attrition rate in half for the students Bottom Line serves, with the first cohort hitting an 85% graduation rate.
  • Alumni average student loan debt in New York is $12,910 while the state average is $32,200.

In a major study released in October 2021, researchers found that students randomly offered Bottom Line advising are substantially more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree within 5-6 years of high school.

They find that, compared to the control group, Bottom Line students are:

  • 13% more likely to be enrolled in a four-year college
  • 10 percentage points more likely to stay enrolled in a four-year college over time
  • 23% more likely to graduate within four years after high school
  • 16% more likely to graduate within five years after high school
  • 18% more likely to graduate within six years after high school

Impressively, their analyses also find that Bottom Line’s impacts are “consistent across time, advisor, and student characteristics.”

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