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II. Current Transfer Trends in Massachusetts Public Higher Education

The Commonwealth Transfer Advisory Group sought to gain an understanding of the current transfer landscape by investigating the level of transfer activity across the Massachusetts public higher education institutions and academic performance related to transfer[5]. The first section investigates how many students transfer credit across institutions, when they transfer, and where they transfer. The second section explores and compares the academic performance of transfer students and “native” students (e.g. a student who remained at his or her original institution of enrollment).

Scope and Direction of Transfer

1. A significant percentage of new students in the Massachusetts system of public higher education previously earned credits at another public or private higher education institution.

In fall 2006, almost one-quarter of new students attending a Massachusetts public higher education institution had previously earned credits at another college or university. Approximately one-third of new students at the University of Massachusetts campuses and at the state colleges transferred in college-level credit while almost one-fifth of new students at the community colleges did so.

Table 1: Fall 2006 New Transfer Students as a Percent of All New Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Students

New
Students
New Transfer
 Students
Percent of New
that are Transfer
University of Massachusetts 12,570 4,066 32.4%
State Colleges 10,078 3,349 33.2%
Community Colleges 26,322 4,467 16.9%
System 48,970 11,882 24.3%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education

2. Within the population of students who attend more than one institution of higher education, most attend two institutions.

Table 2: Number of Institutions Attended by Fall 2002 First-Time Students Between Fall 2002 and Fall 2006

 
Number of Institutions Attended
Cohort 1 2 3 4
University of Massachusetts 6,547 63.3% 28.0% 7.2% 1.4%
State Colleges 5,539 65.0% 27.2% 6.7% 1.1%
Community Colleges 17,134 70.6% 24.5% 4.4% 0.6%
System 29,220 67.9% 25.8% 5.4% 0.9%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; National Student Clearinghouse

3. Student transfer within the public higher education system is multidirectional.

Student transfer is not limited to the traditional “vertical” movement from a community college to a state college or University of Massachusetts campus. Transfer is also “lateral” (e.g. community college to community college); “reverse” (e.g. state college to community college); and “swirling” (movement among multiple institutions). In fall 2006, just over one-half (51.3%) of new undergraduate degree-seeking transfer students at the University of Massachusetts had previously attended a two-year institution (Massachusetts or out-of-state public or private), while almost one third (31.9%) had previously attended another four-year institution (Massachusetts or out-of-state public or private). At the state colleges, 58.3% of new transfer students had formerly attended a two-year institution, and 36.1% had attended another four-year institution. At the community colleges, just over 30% of new transfer students had previously attended another two-year institution, and just over 40% of new transfer students had previously attended a four-year institution.

Table 3: Sources of Fall 2006 New Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Transfer Students

2-Year 4-Year Internal Other
University of Massachusetts 51.3% 31.9% 3.9% 0.6%
State Colleges 58.3% 36.1% 3.1% 1.6%
Community Colleges 30.6% 41.4% 0.1% 2.7%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: Data only available for thirteen of fifteen community colleges.
2-year institutions include Massachusetts and out-of-state public and private institutions.
4-year institutions include Massachusetts and out-of-state public and private institutions.

4. Students tend to transfer to the state colleges and University of Massachusetts campuses prior to earning an associate degree (or equivalent number of credits).

In fall 2006, out of the 3,105 students transferring from a community college to a state college or University of Massachusetts campus, only 43.4% had earned an associate degree. In looking at students transferring from other private and out-of-state two-year institutions, approximately 31% of non-Massachusetts public two-year transfer students transferred to a state college or University of Massachusetts campus with the equivalent number of credits (60) necessary for an associate degree. Finally, out of the population of students who transferred to a state college or University of Massachusetts campus from another four-year institution, only 22.2% had earned enough credits (60 or more) equaling or surpassing the number needed for an associate degree.

Table 4: Prior Degrees and Transferable Credits of New Transfers Enrolling in the State Colleges and University of Massachusetts in Fall 2006

MA Community Colleges Other Two-Year Four-Year
AA or AS Degree 43.4% NA NA
No Credits 1.4% 4.4% 3.7%
0.1 - 15 Credits 8.2% 12.1% 14.9%
15.1 - 30 Credits 12.2% 20.4% 27.7%
30.1 - 59 Credits 32.6% 32.2% 31.5%
60.0 - 70 Credits

27.6%

16.4%

7.8%

More than 70 Credits

17.9%

14.5%

14.4%

Total Transfers

3,105

932

2,772

Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: Only includes students from an institution with a known type based on CEEB.

5. Approximately half of students transferring to public higher education institutions in Massachusetts are from other public higher education institutions in Massachusetts.

In fall 2006, 50% of new undergraduate degree-seeking transfer students at the University of Massachusetts were from Massachusetts public two-year or public four-year institutions (40% and 10%, respectively). The rest were from a mix of private Massachusetts institutions and out-of-state institutions. At the state colleges, 56% of new undergraduate degree-seeking transfer students were from Massachusetts public two-year or four-year institutions. At the community colleges, 35% were from Massachusetts two-year and four-year institutions.

Table 5.1: Sources of Fall 2006 New Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Transfer Students at the University of Massachusetts

Source Percent of Students
Massachusetts Public Two-Year 40%
Out-of-State Four-Year 14%
Other 13%
Massachusetts Public Four-Year 10%
Massachusetts Private Four-Year 8%
Out-of-State Two-Year 6%
Massachusetts Private Two-Year 5%
Internal 4%
International 0%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; National Student Clearinghouse

Table 5.2: Sources of Fall 2006 New Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Transfer Students at the State Colleges

Source Percent of Students
Massachusetts Public Two-Year 45%
Out-of-State Four-Year 15%
Massachusetts Private Four-Year 10%
Massachusetts Public Four-Year 11%
Out-of-State Two-Year 7%
Massachusetts Private Two-Year 6%
Internal 3%
Other 2%
International 1%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; National Student Clearinghouse

Table 5.3: Sources of Fall 2006 New Undergraduate Degree-Seeking Transfer Students at the Community Colleges

Source Percent of Students
Other 27%
Massachusetts Public Four-Year 19%
Massachusetts Public Two-Year 16%
Out-of-State Four-Year 13%
Massachusetts Private Four-Year 9%
Out-of-State Two-Year 9%
Massachusetts Private Two-Year 5%
International 2%
Internal 0%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; National Student Clearinghouse
Note: Data only available for 13 of 15 community colleges.

6. Massachusetts community college students mostly transfer to other Massachusetts public higher education institutions.

Of the 4,629 students who started for the first time at a community college in fall 2002 but had attended at least one other institution by the fall of 2006, 77% had gone on to attend another public higher education institution, while only 23% had attended a private institution.

Table 6: Types of Institutions Other Than the Original Attended by 2002 First-Time Community College Students Who Had Attended At Least One Other Institution as of Fall 2006 (Total=4,629)

Type of Institution Percent of Students
Public Four-Year 50%
Public Two-Year 27%
Private Four-Year 16%
Private Two-Year 7%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education; National Student Clearinghouse

7. Students mostly transfer within their geographical region, although this varies greatly by region.

The table below tracks student transfer movement in public higher education within the five major regions in Massachusetts. The region with the highest percentage of students transferring to other public higher education institutions within the same region is Cape Cod/Southeast (72.5%) followed by Berkshire/Pioneer Valley (68.1%). The region with the greatest amount of transfer variability—that is, students transferring into this region from other regions—is Greater Boston, with 43.7% of transfer students coming from within and 56.3% coming from outside of this region.

Table 7: Types of Institutions Other Than the Original Attended by 2002 First-Time Community College Students Who Had Attended At Least One Other Institution as of Fall 2006 (Total=4,629)

Transferring From
Berkshire / Pioneer Valley Cape and Islands / Southeast Central Greater Boston Northeast System Total
To Berkshire / Pioneer Valley 68.1% 9.4% 8.7% 6.8% 7.0% 1,297
Cape and Islands / Southeast 8.6% 72.5% 3.3% 10.9% 4.7% 910
Central 15.1% 8.1% 52.9% 11.9% 12.0% 724
Greater Boston 10.2% 20.6% 7.3% 43.7% 18.3% 1,034
Northeast 9.1% 8.2% 4.2% 16.5% 62.0% 1,421
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: Data only available for 13 of the 15 community colleges.

Academic Performance

8. The more transferable credits a transfer student completes, the more likely he or she will have a slightly higher final grade point average at the time of graduation from a University of Massachusetts campus.

The table below examines the relationship between the range of transferable credits students had upon enrolling at a state college or University of Massachusetts in fall 1999 and the grade point average of students who graduated within six years. At the University of Massachusetts, there is a positive relationship between transferable credits and final grade point averages with students at the low range (0.1-15 credits) earning a 2.64 grade point average and with students at the high range (60 or more credits) earning a 3.17 grade point average. At the state colleges, final grade point averages vary slightly and inconsistently in relation to the range of transferable credits.

Table 8: GPA at Time of Graduation of New Transfer Students Entering in Fall 1999

  Range of Transferable Credits Fall `99 New Transfer Students Total Graduated in Six Years GPA at time of Graduation
UMass 0 - 15 Credits 448 162 2.64
16 - 59 Credits 1,775 1,056 3.10
60 or More Credits 794 563 3.17
Total 3,017 1,781 3.08
State Colleges 0 - 15 Credits 226 104 3.14
16 - 59 Credits 1,153 690 3.08
60 or More Credits 808 473 3.17
Total 2,187 1,267 3.12
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: State College summary includes seven of the nine state colleges. UMass summary included three of the four undergraduate campuses. Graduation means graduated from a Massachusetts public college or university.

9. The more transferable credits a transfer student completes, the more likely he or she will graduate from a state college or University of Massachusetts campus.

The table below examines the four-, five-, and six-year graduation rates of students who transferred to a University of Massachusetts campus or state college in fall 1999. Students who have a higher number of transferable credits upon enrollment tend to have higher graduation rates than students with a lower number of transferable credits. At the University of Massachusetts, students who transferred in 0.1-15 credits have a 34.2% six-year graduation rate as compared to a 67.8% six-year graduation rate for students who transferred in 60 or more credits.

Table 9: Time to Graduation at Transfer Institution of New Transfer Students entering in Fall 1999

Range of Transferable Credits Fall `99 New Transfer Students
Years to Graduation
6-Year Graduation Rate
  3 or less 4 5 6
UMass 0 - 15 Credits 448 14.3% 11.8% 5.6% 2.5% 34.2%
16 - 59 Credits 1,775 32.2% 15.2% 5.4% 2.4% 55.1%
60 or More Credits 794 53.9% 9.1% 2.4% 2.4% 67.8%
Total 3,017 35.3% 13.1% 4.6% 2.4% 55.3%
State Colleges 0 - 15 Credits 226 9.7% 16.8% 9.7% 2.2% 38.5%
16 - 59 Credits 1,153 30.0% 17.6% 5.2% 2.6% 55.4%
60 or More Credits 808 40.2% 10.3% 3.5% 1.9% 55.8%
Total 2,187 31.7% 14.8% 5.0% 2.3% 53.8%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: State College summary includes seven of the nine state colleges. UMass summary included three of the four undergraduate campuses. Graduation means graduated from a Massachusetts public college or university.

10. Once students transfer to a state college or University of Massachusetts campus, they tend to have graduation rates and grade point averages comparable to or better than “native” students.

The tables below compare the graduation rates and grade point averages of full-time and part-time “native” and transfer students enrolling at the state colleges or University of Massachusetts campuses. In the first table, which focuses on the state colleges, full-time transfer students did slightly better than the full-time “native” students whether or not students graduated from the same institution or graduated from another public higher education institution. For example, for those who stayed to graduate from the same institutions, full-time transfer students had a 57.9% six-year graduation rate compared to a 48.4% graduation rate for full-time freshmen. The final grade point average for full-time transfer students was 3.52, compared to a 3.42 grade point average for full-time “native” students. At the University of Massachusetts, full-time transfer students had slightly higher graduation rates than “native” students (58.3% vs. 54%) and slightly lower grade point averages (3.07 vs. 3.15).

Table 10.1: Six-Year Graduation Rate and Cumulative GPA of New Students entering the State Colleges in Fall 1999

New Student Type Cohort Graduated at Same Institution Graduation from MA Public Cumulative GPA
Full-Time First-Time Freshmen 4432 48.4% 55.0% 3.42
Full-Time New Transfer 1957 57.9% 62.3% 3.52
Part-Time First-Time Freshmen 343 22.4% 29.8% 3.11
Part-Time New Transfer 550 36.4% 38.2% 3.45
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

Table 10.2: Six-Year Graduation Rate and Cumulative GPA of New Students entering the University of Massachusetts in Fall 1999

New Student Type Cohort Graduated at Same Institution Graduation from MA Public Cumulative GPA
Full-Time First-Time Freshmen 6632 54% 58.5% 3.15
Full-Time New Transfer 2786 58.3% 62.1% 3.07
Part-Time First-Time Freshmen 209 18.2% 23.0% 3.40
Part-Time New Transfer 656 36.6% 39.6% 3.23
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.

11. Students who graduate from a Massachusetts community college with a 3.0 final grade point average or higher tend to have higher graduation rates from the state college and University of Massachusetts campus to which they transfer as compared to community college graduates who earned less than a 3.0.

The first table below demonstrates that students who graduate with an associate degree from a Massachusetts community college with a 3.0 or higher grade point average and transfer to a University of Massachusetts campus have significantly higher six-year graduation rates (72.2%) than students who earn less than a 3.0 grade point average (57.6%) . There is a similar trend at the state colleges with community college graduates with a 3.0 or higher grade point average having a higher graduation rate (65.3%) than those who have below a 3.0 grade point average (46.6%).

Table 11.1: Graduation Rate for the Fall 1999 Cohort of Degree-Seeking Undergraduate Transfer Students that Previously Earned an Associate Degree from a Massachusetts Community College

Community College GPA Fall `99 New Transfer Students
Years to Graduation
6-Year Graduation Rate
  3 or less 4 5 6
UMass CC GPA less than 3.00 170 41.8% 12.4% 2.4% 1.2% 57.6%
CC GPA 3.00 or higher 306 57.5% 9.5% 2.9% 2.3% 72.2%
Total 476 51.9% 10.5% 2.7% 1.9% 67.0%
State Colleges CC GPA less than 3.00 174 36.8% 8.0% 1.7% 0.0% 46.6%
CC GPA 3.00 or higher 262 48.1% 11.5% 5.0% 0.8% 65.3%
Total 436 43.6% 10.1% 3.7% 0.5% 57.8%
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: State College summary includes seven of the nine state colleges. UMass summary included three of the four undergraduate campuses.

Similarly, the table below demonstrates that students who graduate with an associate degree from a Massachusetts community college with a 3.0 or higher grade point average have higher final grade point averages (than those students with less than a 3.0 GPA) at the state college or University of Massachusetts campus from which they graduate.

Table 11.2: Graduation Rate for the Fall 1999 Cohort of Degree-Seeking Undergraduate Transfer Students that Previously Earned an Associate Degree from a Massachusetts Community College

  Community College GPA Fall `99 New Transfer Students Total Earned Degrees in MA Public System in Six Years Average GPA at Time of Graduation
UMass CC GPA less than 3.00 170 110 2.76
CC GPA 3.00 or higher 306 231 3.13
Total 476 341 3.01
State Colleges CC GPA less than 3.00 174 86 2.85
CC GPA 3.00 or higher 262 179 3.26
Total 436 265 3.13
Source: Higher Education Information Resource System, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education.
Note: State College summary includes seven of the nine state colleges.

Footnotes

5 The findings in this section are from the Department of Higher Education’s Higher Education Information Research System (HEIRS) and the National Student Clearinghouse. The data in HEIRS is submitted from individual campuses. “Transfer” applies to students who attended a previous higher education institution during the current or in a prior term and were categorized as a transfer student by the receiving institution. “Transferable credits” are credits earned at the previously attended higher education institution(s) prior to transfer. The receiving institution may or may not accept and apply all eligible transferable credits to a specific degree program. Remedial coursework is not transferable. “Transfer grade point average” is the transfer student’s cumulative college grade point average upon which the admissions decision was based.

>> Next section: III. Massachusetts and National Transfer Policies and Agreements

 

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