Biden-Harris Administration Convenes Higher Education Leaders to Improve Student Transfer to Increase Completion of College Degrees

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Biden-Harris Administration Convenes Higher Education Leaders to Improve Student Transfer to Increase Completion of College Degrees

New state-by-state data on top two- and four-year institutions supporting student transfer shows importance of sustained cross-institutional partnerships.
November 9, 2023

As part of its Raise the Bar: Attaining College Excellence and Equity initiative, the U.S. Department of Education is hosting a summit today at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) in Annadale, Virginia with 200 higher education leaders on making it easier for students to transfer from one college to another, in turn helping them save time and money. The Department is also releasing groundbreaking new data showing which two- and four-year institutions are best promoting transfer students’ success and highlighting the most productive transfer partnerships between community college and bachelors’ degree institutions in the country.

The difficulty students face in transferring between colleges is one of the most significant obstacles to helping many more students earn college degrees. While nearly 40% of students transfer at some point along their postsecondary journeys, they lose more than 40% of their credits on average when they move between schools. This costs students time, money, and too often the credentials they seek to earn.

As part of the response to the Supreme Court decision in Students for Fair Admissions, the Biden-Harris Administration emphasized in a White House meeting with college presidents and a report on strategies to increase diversity and opportunity in higher education the importance of supporting community college transfer students. Given that many students of color and students with low incomes start their higher learning at community colleges, improving transfer pipelines from two-year to four-year colleges is a key strategy that states and institutions can consider as they commit to missions of greater diversity.

“If we want to Raise the Bar for educational attainment in this country and create more equitable outcomes in higher education, then we need leaders to dramatically level up their support for transfer students,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “Our current higher education system stacks the deck against community college students who aspire to earn four-year degrees—denying acceptance of their credits, forcing them to retake courses, and ultimately making their educational journeys longer and costlier than they need to be. In the wake of a Supreme Court decision that threatens to undermine diversity and equal opportunity in higher education, the Biden-Harris Administration believes that fixing our broken approach to transfer in this country, which disproportionately impacts students of color and other underserved students, has never mattered more.”

The Department also released today groundbreaking new data on transfers that spotlights the top two-year and four-year institutional partnership in each state. Despite the large number of transfer students, there has been little public data on how well particular colleges serve them. Among those top-performing partnerships is NOVA, the host institution for the event, and George Mason University (GMU). Thirteen percent of new federally aided students who enroll at NOVA earn bachelor’s degrees from GMU within eight years, reflecting a high transfer rate between the two institutions and a strong graduation rate after transfer. The Department’s research also found that this partnership is an important factor in the high rate at which Virginia community college students go on to earn bachelor’s degrees, compared to other states. The data also identified other strong partnerships such as Irvine Valley College with California State University-Fullerton (13%), Heartland Community College with Illinois State University (13%), and the Tri-County Technical College with Clemson University (20%).

The summit includes teams of institutional and state representatives from 11 states from across the country: California, Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. At the convening, participants will make commitments to support effective state transfer policy, institutional transfer policy and practice, transfer student advising and navigation, and data- and technology-enabled transfer solutions.

“At today’s summit, the Biden-Harris Administration will not only uplift successful efforts for promoting transfer student success, but also release new data on transfer outcomes across institutions that we hope will help leaders build a more accessible and inclusive higher education system,” said Assistant Secretary of Postsecondary Education Nasser Paydar.

Participants in the summit will also discuss their initiatives and commitments to improving transfer.

Mildred Garcia, Chancellor of the California State University said, “As the first Latina chancellor of the nation’s largest and most diverse four-year university system – half a million students strong – I thank Secretary Cardona for his visionary leadership in advancing educational excellence and equity. These values are the CSU’s values, and we are committed to strengthening transfer pathways to provide increased educational opportunities for the future diverse leaders who will drive California’s social and economic prosperity.”

“While 80% of community college students intend to transfer, fewer than 20% make it to a four-year institution and complete a bachelor’s degree. It’s imperative that higher education works together to help these students who are disproportionately first generation, low-income, working parents, and students of color—complete the transfer process, graduate, and enter the workforce. I am honored to be part of this summit to learn new approaches that support transfer student success,” said Joe Garcia, Chancellor of the Colorado Community College System.

The transfer summit is part of the Department’s Raise the Bar: Attaining College Excellence and Equity initiative. Raise the Bar seeks to uplift colleges committed to inclusivity, equity, and excellence, rather than arbitrary rankings, high costs, and privilege. Raise the Bar encourages state and institutional leaders to ensure students of all backgrounds can earn a college degree or certificate and go on to a better life.

Building on this year’s summits on data-driven improvement and transfer students, next year the Department will convene leaders to address holistic advising and wraparound services and career-relevant learning pathways in order to help more institutions increase completion rates, close completion gaps, and ensure all students are earning completions of value that lead to economic opportunity.

Table 1: Community colleges with highest transfer-out rate for Title IV students, by state

 

State  

Institution name 

Transfer-out rate (8-year) 

Number of students starting in 2-year cohort in 2014 

Number of 2-year cohort students ever enrolled at a 4-year within 8 years 

AL 

Marion Military Institute 

62% 

149 

93 

AR 

NorthWest Arkansas Community College 

32% 

826 

263 

AZ 

Chandler-Gilbert Community College 

36% 

855 

308 

CA 

Irvine Valley College 

53% 

386 

205 

CO 

Colorado Northwestern Community College 

36% 

86 

31 

CT 

Norwalk Community College 

32% 

452 

146 

DE 

Delaware Technical Community College-Terry 

24% 

1450 

347 

FL 

Tallahassee Community College 

37% 

1610 

590 

GA 

South Georgia State College 

50% 

560 

281 

HI 

Kapiolani Community College 

36% 

461 

168 

IA 

Ellsworth Community College 

46% 

229 

106 

ID 

College of Southern Idaho 

26% 

617 

162 

IL 

William Rainey Harper College 

41% 

1048 

431 

IN 

Vincennes University 

21% 

1527 

317 

KS 

Barton County Community College 

45% 

219 

98 

KY 

Hopkinsville Community College 

26% 

348 

92 

LA 

Louisiana State University-Eunice 

35% 

417 

148 

MA 

Massachusetts Bay Community College 

39% 

451 

176 

MD 

Montgomery College 

43% 

1856 

805 

ME 

Kennebec Valley Community College 

27% 

191 

52 

MI 

Muskegon Community College 

34% 

556 

188 

MN 

Normandale Community College 

36% 

846 

304 

MO 

St Charles Community College 

33% 

637 

210 

MS 

Mississippi Delta Community College 

43% 

478 

206 

MT 

Dawson Community College 

52% 

65 

34 

NC 

Coastal Carolina Community College 

31% 

309 

95 

ND 

Dakota College at Bottineau 

41% 

106 

43 

NE 

Mid-Plains Community College 

29% 

275 

80 

NH 

NHTI-Concord's Community College 

31% 

720 

226 

NJ 

County College of Morris 

48% 

717 

345 

NM 

New Mexico Military Institute 

71% 

103 

73 

NV 

Western Nevada College 

27% 

221 

59 

NY 

Stella and Charles Guttman Community College 

55% 

173 

95 

OH 

Columbus State Community College 

31% 

2025 

632 

OK 

Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College 

39% 

444 

173 

OR 

Clackamas Community College 

29% 

475 

136 

PA 

Bucks County Community College 

44% 

700 

311 

RI 

Community College of Rhode Island 

25% 

2172 

544 

SC 

University of South Carolina-Sumter 

61% 

127 

78 

SD 

Western Dakota Technical Institute 

19% 

182 

35 

TN 

Motlow State Community College 

32% 

569 

184 

TX 

The University of Texas at Brownsville 

49% 

1293 

628 

UT 

Snow College 

43% 

602 

259 

VA 

Richard Bland College of the College of William and Mary 

47% 

245 

116 

VT 

Community College of Vermont 

23% 

491 

115 

WA 

Bellevue College 

42% 

375 

159 

WI 

University of Wisconsin Colleges 

45% 

1740 

780 

WV 

Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College 

26% 

338 

87 

WY 

Northwest College 

31% 

179 

55 

 

Table 2: Four-year institutions with highest transfers’ bachelor’s completion rate for Title IV students, by state 

 

State 

Institution name 

Transfers’ bachelor’s completion rate (8-year) 

Number of community college students transferring within 4 years to BA-granting institution 

Number of degrees granted at BA-granting institution among community college students transferring within 4 years 

AL 

Auburn University 

67% 

188 

126 

AR 

University of Arkansas 

54% 

190 

103 

AZ 

University of Arizona 

61% 

261 

158 

CA 

California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo 

89% 

45 

40 

CO 

University of Northern Colorado 

60% 

102 

61 

CT 

University of Connecticut 

74% 

107 

79 

DE 

Wilmington University 

30% 

156 

47 

FL 

University of Miami 

80% 

56 

45 

GA 

University of Georgia 

72% 

81 

58 

HI 

University of Hawaii at Manoa 

64% 

215 

137 

IA 

Mount Mercy University 

86% 

36 

31 

ID 

University of Idaho 

63% 

65 

41 

IL 

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

89% 

207 

184 

IN 

Purdue University-Main Campus 

74% 

70 

52 

KS 

Kansas State University 

54% 

213 

114 

KY 

University of Kentucky 

63% 

121 

76 

LA 

Louisiana State University and A&M College 

63% 

158 

99 

MA 

University of Massachusetts-Lowell 

62% 

244 

152 

MD 

University of Maryland-College Park 

76% 

331 

250 

ME 

University of Southern Maine 

54% 

82 

44 

MI 

University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 

88% 

68 

60 

MN 

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities 

67% 

248 

167 

MO 

Missouri University of Science and Technology 

74% 

62 

46 

MS 

Mississippi University for Women 

64% 

85 

54 

NC 

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

78% 

92 

72 

ND 

North Dakota State University-Main Campus 

62% 

131 

81 

NE 

University of Nebraska-Lincoln 

60% 

139 

84 

NH 

University of New Hampshire-Main Campus 

58% 

76 

44 

NJ 

The College of New Jersey 

86% 

42 

36 

NM 

University of New Mexico-Main Campus 

43% 

222 

95 

NV 

University of Nevada-Reno 

66% 

129 

85 

NY 

Saint John Fisher College 

78% 

54 

42 

OH 

Ohio State University-Main Campus 

60% 

337 

202 

OK 

Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 

62% 

295 

184 

OR 

University of Oregon 

65% 

137 

89 

PA 

Thomas Jefferson University 

67% 

55 

37 

RI 

University of Rhode Island 

69% 

89 

61 

SC 

Clemson University 

74% 

300 

222 

TN 

Tennessee Technological University 

67% 

129 

86 

TX 

Texas A & M University-College Station 

85% 

436 

372 

UT 

University of Utah 

55% 

168 

92 

VA 

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University 

87% 

135 

118 

WA 

Western Washington University 

73% 

108 

79 

WI 

University of Wisconsin-Madison 

75% 

109 

82 

WV 

Fairmont State University 

58% 

57 

33 

WY 

University of Wyoming 

60% 

119 

71 

 

Table 3: Dyads with highest dyad bachelor’s completion rate for Title IV students, by states

 

State 

Dyad name 

Dyad bachelor’s completion rate (8-year) 

Number of students starting at 2-year in 2014 

Number of students starting at 2-year that ever graduate from the 4-year within 8 years 

AL 

Southern Union State Community College X Auburn University 

7% 

710 

47 

AZ 

Chandler-Gilbert Community College X Arizona State University Campus Immersion 

12% 

855 

103 

AR 

NorthWest Arkansas Community College X University of Arkansas 

9% 

826 

71 

CA 

Irvine Valley College X California State University-Fullerton 

13% 

386 

50 

CO 

Pikes Peak State College X University of Colorado Colorado Springs 

4% 

1233 

50 

CT 

Manchester Community College X Central Connecticut State University 

5% 

681 

37 

DE 

Delaware Technical Community College-Terry X Wilmington University 

3% 

1450 

48 

FL 

Tallahassee Community College X Florida State University 

12% 

1610 

197 

GA 

East Georgia State College X Georgia Southern University 

12% 

686 

85 

HI 

Kapiolani Community College X University of Hawaii at Manoa 

16% 

461 

76 

ID 

College of Western Idaho X Boise State University 

7% 

1062 

70 

IL 

Heartland Community College X Illinois State University 

13% 

433 

55 

IN 

Ivy Tech Community College X Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis 

1% 

9552 

116 

IA 

Hawkeye Community College X University of Northern Iowa 

8% 

686 

55 

KS 

Butler Community College X Wichita State University 

8% 

885 

73 

KY 

Southcentral Kentucky Community and Technical College X Western Kentucky University 

7% 

454 

31 

LA 

South Louisiana Community College X University of Louisiana at Lafayette 

8% 

620 

49 

ME 

Southern Maine Community College X University of Southern Maine 

4% 

884 

34 

MD 

Wor-Wic Community College X Salisbury University 

10% 

385 

39 

MA 

Middlesex Community College X University of Massachusetts-Lowell 

11% 

990 

104 

MI 

Kalamazoo Valley Community College X Western Michigan University 

8% 

914 

77 

MN 

Rochester Community and Technical College X Winona State University 

6% 

674 

43 

MS 

Jones County Junior College X University of Southern Mississippi 

4% 

757 

33 

MO 

Missouri State University-West Plains X Missouri State University-Springfield 

11% 

290 

31 

NE 

Northeast Community College X Wayne State College 

6% 

585 

33 

NV 

Truckee Meadows Community College X University of Nevada-Reno 

7% 

694 

47 

NJ 

Middlesex College X Rutgers University-New Brunswick 

9% 

1216 

114 

NM 

Central New Mexico Community College X University of New Mexico-Main Campus 

4% 

2134 

92 

NY 

CUNY Kingsborough Community College X CUNY Brooklyn College 

9% 

1826 

162 

NC 

Central Piedmont Community College X University of North Carolina at Charlotte 

8% 

1845 

146 

OH 

Columbus State Community College X Ohio State University-Main Campus 

8% 

2025 

160 

OK 

Northern Oklahoma College X Oklahoma State University-Main Campus 

7% 

527 

39 

OR 

Portland Community College X Portland State University 

6% 

1852 

120 

PA 

Bucks County Community College X Temple University 

9% 

700 

60 

RI 

Community College of Rhode Island X Rhode Island College 

4% 

2172 

85 

SC 

Tri-County Technical College X Clemson University 

20% 

942 

187 

TN 

Northeast State Community College X East Tennessee State University 

8% 

668 

51 

TX 

Blinn College District X Texas A & M University-College Station 

12% 

2311 

272 

UT 

Snow College X Utah State University 

5% 

602 

33 

VA 

Northern Virginia Community College X George Mason University 

13% 

3766 

503 

WA 

Seattle Central College X University of Washington-Seattle Campus 

13% 

259 

33 

WI 

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College X University of Wisconsin-Green Bay 

5% 

879 

40