Reports Highlights: The Impact of Regular Upward Bound: Results from the Third Follow-up Data Collection (2004)
Mathematica Policy Research
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This study's main objective is to assess the impact of program participation on students' preparation for college, college enrollment, persistence and completion. Findings are based upon a nationally representative sample of 67 Upward Bound projects hosted by two-and four-year colleges, from which 2,800 eligible applicants were randomly assigned to Upward Bound or to a control group. At the time of the most recent follow-up data collection, all sampled students had sufficient time to complete high school and about two years in which to enter college. This report, therefore, focuses on high school preparation for college, enrollment and early college persistence. Most estimates of program impact are based on comparing average outcomes for students in the program and the control group. Key findings are:

  • Upward Bound had no effect on enrollment at postsecondary institutions or postsecondary credits earned by students overall; it may have increased enrollment in four-year colleges by about six (6) percentage points but the evidence is not statistically conclusive. Increased enrollment at four-year colleges appears to be offset by reduced enrollment in two-year colleges.

  • Upward Bound has a substantial impact on high school and postsecondary outcomes for certain groups of students. In particular, Upward Bound consistently showed a positive impact on students who, when applying for the program, did not expect to earn a B.A. degree. Although these students with "lower educational expectations" comprise only about 20 percent of Upward Bound participants, participation in the program increases the total number of academic credits they earn in high school (two credits) as well as AP credits credits (0.7). Most significantly, Upward Bound more than doubles, from 18 to 38 percent, the likelihood that these students will enroll in a four-year college, and improves their early college persistence as measured by total credits earned (11 additional credits).

  • Upward Bound has limited overall impact on students' academic preparation for college. Although Upward Bound slightly increases the number of math credits earned (0.2 credits), the program has no impact on credits earned in other academic areas, total high school credits, Advanced Placement (AP) course-taking, high school graduation or grade point average.

  • Staying in Upward Bound for longer periods is associated with better student outcomes. The median length of program participation is 19 months. Each additional year that a student remains in Upward Bound is associated with a 9-percentage point increase in attendance at a postsecondary institution.

Future reports in this series will address the impact of Upward Bound on college completion.

Copies of this report are available by calling toll free 1-877-4-ED-Pubs or TTY/TDD toll free at 1-877-576-7734 or on the Department of Education Web site at

Report Highlights prepared by Policy and Program Studies Service, U.S. Department of Education.

Archived Information: The Impacts of Upward Bound: Final Report For Phase I of the National Evaluation Analysis and Highlights (1999)

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Last Modified: 04/29/2004