Only over a tenth of students receiving Title IV aid (13%) who start at community colleges ultimately earn bachelor’s degrees within eight years, according to a U.S. Department of Education (ED) report.
Using data from ED’s National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS), the authors looked at outcomes of approximately 620,000 Title IV students from 50 states who enrolled in community colleges as their first postsecondary institutions in 2014, following their progress for eight years across multiple institutions to determine success rates of transfer and four-year degree attainment.
The goal of the investigation was to gauge the performance of both the sending and receiving schools, measuring both the rate of successful transfers out of a two-year school, “Access,” and the rate at which those transfer students earn bachelor’s degrees within eight years, “Success.”
“Both two- and four-year institutions play a key role in determining this overall state transfer performance,” the authors wrote. “While community colleges provide the onramp to the pathway, public- and private- four-year institutions provide the destination and support for students to complete their bachelor’s degrees. A state’s performance depends on both its two-year and four-year sectors’ performance, meaning a state can only perform well overall if both its community colleges are adept at preparing and sending transfer students and its four-year institutions are successful in enrolling and graduating them.”
Though 13% was the overall community college BA attainment rate, there was significant variation among U.S. states, the authors wrote. The states of New Jersey, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia saw much higher rates than average.