KIPP Announces Findings From its First-Ever Survey of KIPP Alumni in College

New York, NYJanuary 31, 2017 – The KIPP Foundation announced today the findings from its first-ever survey of KIPP alumni in college. By releasing this data, KIPP hopes to better understand the specific hurdles faced by KIPP alumni on the path to a college degree, as well as to raise public awareness about the challenges facing first-generation and low-income college students.

KIPP currently has over 10,000 alumni enrolled in college across the United States. In fall of 2016, the KIPP Foundation administered an electronic survey to these students and was able to analyze responses from nearly 3,000 alumni.  KIPP has made a survey overview and the survey results available at

KIPP defines “alumni” as all students who completed eighth grade at a KIPP middle school or twelfth grade at a KIPP high school. Currently, 81 percent of KIPP alumni enroll in college after graduating from high school.  As of fall 2016, 44 percent of KIPP alumni have completed a four-year college 10 or more years after completing eighth grade. The four-year college completion rate for KIPP alumni is above the national average for all students and more than four times the national average for students from similar economic backgrounds.

“This survey was an opportunity to elevate the voices of our alumni and share their insights,” said KIPP Foundation CEO Richard Barth. “The findings provide actionable data, not just for us, but also for any institution or organization committed to supporting students from educationally underserved communities.”

Some of the key findings include:

  • KIPP alumni face challenges securing work study jobs. While more than half of KIPP alumni qualify for federal work study, only 40 percent of those who work while in college currently have a work-study job. Students at less-competitive colleges had a harder time finding work-study jobs.
  • KIPP alumni have limited access to career-relevant internships. The majority of KIPP alumni had jobs or internships last summer, but less than 30 percent said their job was aligned to their career aspirations.
  • Food insecurity is a pressing issue for KIPP alumni. Nearly 60 percent of KIPP alumni said they worry about running out of food before they can afford to buy more. More than 40 percent said they have missed meals in order to pay for books, school fees, and other expenses.
  • Some KIPP alumni are also financially supporting family members. Nearly 25 percent of alumni said they sent money home to support at least one family member. The proportion was slightly higher at 2-year schools than at 4-year schools.

To address the many challenges that first generation students face, KIPP has partnered with more than 80 colleges and universities across the country. These institutions commit to identifying organizational structures and supports that improve persistence and graduation rates for KIPP alumni and other first-generation students.

Georgia State University, a KIPP college partner, has been recognized as a national leader for increasing graduation rates for low-income students. Its Panther Retention Grant program, which preemptively awards micro-grants to student who are at risk of dropping out because they cannot cover their tuition charges, has helped 8,000 students stay enrolled over the past four years. The intervention has not only led to thousands of additional graduates, but has also helped Georgia State to reduce the average time it takes students to complete their degrees by more than half a semester, saving students millions of dollars in tuition and fees.

“Through a commitment to students and a willingness to rethink the fundamental model of education, KIPP, like Georgia State University, has shown that demographics are not destiny,” said Mark Becker, President of Georgia State University. “We can support access and, at the same time, ensure that students from all backgrounds succeed at high and comparable rates.”

In August, KIPP is holding its second-annual KIPP College Partner Convening to identify solutions to the challenges that low-income and first-generation students face in college. Last year’s inaugural convening included presidents and senior administrators from more than 50 colleges and universities across the country.

“We know that it takes a commitment from all sides – K-12 schools, higher education institutions, policy makers, and others – to see more students like ours walk across the stage at college graduation,” said Craig Robinson, KIPP’s National Director of KIPP Through College. “The survey shines a spotlight on the pain points that we need to address to make that possible, and we are eager to partner with those in a position to effect change.”

About KIPP

KIPP – the Knowledge Is Power Program is a national network of open-enrollment, college-preparatory public charter schools with a 20-year track record of preparing students in educationally underserved communities for success in college and in life. There are currently 200 KIPP schools in 20 states and the District of Columbia educating nearly 80,000 students. KIPP’s goal is to help students develop the knowledge, skills, and character strengths they need to succeed throughout their education and in the competitive world beyond.