Transfers decrease in the wake of Covid

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The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) Research Center released additional data on Monday focusing on transfers. The new data show further evidence of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on community college students.

Community college transfers to four-year institutions were down -10.1%. The decline tracks with previous reports on enrollment and provides deeper insight into the impact of Covid on student pathways.

“Transfer is an important part of student success, enabling access to bachelor’s degrees for community college students, and critical opportunities for course-correction by students whose goals have changed or who need a stronger institutional fit,” said NSC Executive Director Doug Shapiro. “As the pandemic continues to constrain these avenues of institutional choice, students will face ever larger barriers to educational attainment, promising careers, and socioeconomic mobility. Today’s data show that these adverse impacts fall disproportionately on Black and Hispanic students.”

According to the report, the general dampening of student mobility is seen in all transfer pathways. Reverse transfers from four-year to two-year institutions decreased the most, by more than five times the pre-pandemic rate of decline (-19.4% vs. -3.6%). Lateral transfers — students transferring from a four-year to another four-year college, or a two-year to another two-year college — decreased four times more than the pre-pandemic rate of decline (-12.6% vs. -3.1%). There is a -0.7% drop from last fall in upward transfers from two-year to four-year institutions, after a slight increase pre-pandemic (0.2%).

Transfer enrollment dropped significantly for Black and Hispanic students enrolling in a community college this fall (-22.5% and -20.4%, respectively). Black transfer enrollment dropped the most across all sectors, including private nonprofit four-year institutions (-9.2%) and public four-year institutions (-6.4%).

“Closing equity gaps remains a priority for community colleges,” said Martha Parham, spokesperson for the American Association of Community Colleges. “This data confirms that we need to continue to advance this work across the sector to ensure that all students have access to successful outcomes regardless of their circumstance.”

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