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Gates Millennium Scholars Longitudinal Outcomes

Black businesswoman working in the office
Examining the effect of a program to support high-achieving, low-income college students of color
  • Client
    Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • Dates


The long-term educational and employment outcomes of the Gates Millennium Scholars are unclear.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation established the Gates Millennium Scholars (GMS) program in 1999 to provide high-achieving low-income students of color (referred to as scholars) with funding to attend and complete college. Individuals who applied to the program during its first eight years are now close to or already middle-aged and have established educational and workforce outcomes. To understand the program’s long-term impact on the scholars, the Gates Foundation wanted to conduct a study that strategically compares the educational and workforce outcomes of GMS program recipients and non-recipients. The existence of a comparison group of non-scholars supports the assessment of GMS effects relative to a similar group of high-achieving underrepresented students of color. 


NORC will conduct longitudinal analysis that spans more than 20 years.

NORC received a grant from the Gates Foundation to gather and analyze administrative data for the first five cohorts of GMS program recipients and non-recipients and connect it with data covering the past 14 years from LexisNexis, the U.S. Census, Merkle Datasource, the National Student Clearinghouse, and Catalist. Using that information, NORC will examine the GMS program’s long-term effects on the educational trajectories of the scholars, including:

  • Undergraduate attendance

  • Institution type, level, and selectivity

  • College transfers  

  • College persistence 

  • Major or field 

  • Academic achievement 

  • College completion 

  • Time spent to complete postsecondary degree 

  • Transition to graduate school

  • Graduate degrees

NORC will also examine the effects of the program on the scholars’ career experiences, including:

  • Career resiliency during the pandemic

  • Financial conditions, including debt and the accumulation of wealth

  • The environment established for the next generation, such as housing and neighborhood characteristics 

Finally, NORC will assess outcomes related to other long-term program goals, including: 

  • Encouraging diversity leadership

  • Increasing minority representation in research fields

  • Contributing to society through civic engagement, community service, and democratic values 


Study findings will provide Gates with actionable insights about the Millennium Scholars program and inform and broader discussions about the cost and value of a college degree.

Results from this study will inform the Gates Foundation about the enduring value of their scholarship investment and contribute to much-needed research about financial supports for underserved students entering college. 

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