This study examines the relationships between student engagement, college GPA, and persistence for 6,000 students attending 18 baccalaureate-granting institutions. Data sources included student-level information from the National Survey of Student Engagement, academic transcripts, merit aid, and ACT/SAT score reports. Engagement had positive, statistically significant effects on grades and persistence between the first and second year of study for students from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Equally important, engagement had compensatory effects for historically underserved students in that they benefited more from participating in educationally purposeful activities in terms of earning higher grades and being more likely to persist.