Advancing Racial and Socioeconomic Equity in Transfer Student Success

September 2022–August 2024

Inequities in bachelor’s degree attainment by race and income are deep and growing. Only 26% of Black adults and 19% of Hispanic adults over the age of 25 in the United States hold a bachelor’s degree, compared to 40% of their White peers. Similarly, only 16% of young adults from the lowest income backgrounds have a bachelor’s degree, compared to 62% of their wealthier peers.

Bachelor’s attainment rates for community college transfer students have remained stagnant for over a decade. Students of color (especially Hispanic and Native American students) and lower-income college goers are more likely to start in community colleges but are less likely to transfer and complete a bachelor’s degree. Barriers to transfer and bachelor’s completion for community college students are major contributors to racial inequities in bachelor’s attainment.

In this project, CCRC will partner with the Aspen Institute and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center (NSCRC) to update two influential publications on transfer but with a more central focus on improving equity in bachelor’s degree attainment among community college transfer students. With NSCRC, CCRC will build off our 2016 Tracking Transfer report to develop transfer outcome metrics for community colleges and four-year institutions disaggregated by race/ethnicity and income that practitioners and policy makers can use to measure and assess racial and socioeconomic equity in transfer and bachelor’s degree completion outcomes by state, institution type, and major.

Using NSC data, CCRC and Aspen will identify partnerships of two- and four-year institutions that produce strong bachelor’s degree outcomes for students from Black, Hispanic, and lower-income communities who start at a community college. We will conduct field research to identify the practices institutions in those partnerships use to achieve strong and equitable transfer outcomes. Building on the broad reach in the field of The Transfer Playbook: Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges, CCRC and Aspen will publish the findings in an updated Transfer Playbook.

This project is funded by the John M. Belk Endowment, College Futures Foundation, ECMC Foundation, and Kresge Foundation.