Georgia State University (GSU), a public university in Atlanta with nearly 33,000 undergraduates, has dramatically improved its rates of student success over the past decade. GSU’s six-year graduation rate has increased from 32 percent in 2003 to 54 percent in 2014.1 During the same period, GSU has made a concerted effort to increase enrollment for traditionally underserved students. Remarkably, the share of its students who are Pell eligible nearly doubled, from 31 percent in 2003 to 58 percent in 2013.
GSU’s success with traditionally underserved students has received broad recognition. National media outlets have touted the innovative programs undertaken at GSU,2 and President Obama praised GSU during the 2014 White House College Opportunity Summit.3 GSU is a core member of the University Innovation Alliance, and now hosts approximately 80 visits each year from representatives of other colleges and universities seeking to understand how GSU has achieved its success.4 To research this case study, we visited GSU’s downtown Atlanta campus in March 2015, spending two days meeting with 17 administrators and staff members.5