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Key Issue
State policies must be assessed and updated to effectively support the success of students transferring from two- to four-year institutions to attain their baccalaureate degrees.

Primary Findings
  • Effective state policies are at the heart of baccalaureate success for students transferring from two-year to four-year institutions with the goal of achieving their degrees.
  • Ineffective state policies are a major contributor to the high rate of students who attempt but fail to complete the requirements to attain their degrees.
  • Two-four transfer has to be viable, because it has become the single most important means for low-income and minority students to attain their baccalaureates.
  • State policies differ more as a result of ignorance on how to achieve effective structure than from lack of willingness to support 2/4 transfer.
    Questions That Must Be Answered
  • Two-four transfer is not equally successful in all states. Why?
  • What is the probability that students entering higher education through two-year institutions will achieve a baccalaureate?
  • Who are the students most affected by 2/4 transfer policies?
  • How can states with low 2/4 transfer success improve their track records?

    State Policies On 2/4 Transfers
    Are Key To Degree Attainment

    A recent study has uncovered a vital connection between effective state policies and the success of students who transfer from two-year to four-year institutions.

    "Two-four transfer" refers to students who earn credit at a two-year institution and then enroll in a four-year institution, with the goal of achieving a four-year degree. Two-four transfer is rapidly becoming the most common route to the baccalaureate for a simple, sound reason: it costs less per student.

    It is increasingly important that 2/4 transfers work effectively, because the baccalaureate degree is becoming the entry point to the workforce.

    Nationwide, roughly 43 percent of students who begin their higher education at two-year institutions transfer at least once. Approximately half of these transfer students enroll in a baccalaureate program in a four-year institution.

    However, because of ineffective state policies, the difficulties associated with 2/4 transfers may instead be discouraging students from attaining baccalaureate degrees.

    STATE OPTIONS FOR IMPROVING SUCCESS

    Jane V. Wellman, senior associate with the Institute for Higher Education Policy in Washington, D.C., and a consultant on research and policy issues, mined a cross-section of states to study the effectiveness of 2/4 transfer policies. Her result is a blueprint for states for improving their 2/4 transfer performance, including:
  • Developing baseline information;
  • Clarifying policies and plans;
  • Setting goals and measures;
  • Investing in core resources;
  • Performing statewide audits;
  • Forging agreements;
  • Boosting low-performing institutions;
  • Using financial aid as an incentive; and
  • Reeling private institutions into the fold.


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