A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center found that only 60,000 students out of more than one million who started their educations at two-year institutions transferred to another college after receiving a certificate or associate's degree.
The report also found that more than 350,000 community college students transferred to another institution without getting a degree.
“Community colleges play an incredibly important role in our higher education ecosystem, but this new research shows only a small number of community college students transfer to a four-year institution with a credential,” Jason Taylor, assistant professor of educational leadership and policy at the University of Utah, said in a news release. “The research also suggests that hundreds of thousands of community college transfer students could benefit from reverse transfer programs that help them complete associate’s degrees they’ve earned.”
Transfer students who go on to earn a four-year degree don't count toward the graduation rates of community colleges unless they also earned an associate's degree. As result, two-year colleges are increasingly exploring reverse transfer programs that award associate degrees to students who transferred to four-year colleges as a way of giving those students credit for the work they accomplished in community college and a portion of the work they completed at the institutions where they transferred. This is also an expectation that a two-year degree will improve the job prospects of transfer students who do not complete a bachelor's degree.
The report also found that the transfer rate for students who started at a four-year institution was slightly higher (38.5 percent) than the rate of students who started at a two-year institution (37.1 percent). Transfer rates were similar across ethnicities, but there were slight differences in destination institutions. Asian and white students transferring from two-year colleges were more likely to transfer into four-year institutions at a rate of 49.8 percent and 50.4 percent, respectively. Black and Hispanic students transferred from a two-year into a four-year college at a rate of 26.5 percent and 32.8 percent, respectively.