Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion

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1 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion Presentation to the Senate Education, Business, and Administration Subcommittee and the House Education and Economic Development Subcommittee Department of Legislative Services Office of Policy Analysis Annapolis, Maryland February 10, 2014

2 Contributing Staff Writer Sara J. Baker Reviewers Mary E. Clapsaddle Rachel H. Hise For further information concerning this document contact: Library and Information Services Office of Policy Analysis Department of Legislative Services 90 State Circle Annapolis, Maryland Baltimore Area: Washington Area: Other Areas: , Extension 5400 TTY: Maryland Relay Service: Home Page: The Department of Legislative Services does not discriminate on the basis of age, ancestry, color, creed, marital status, national origin, race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, or disability in the admission or access to its programs, services, or activities. The Department s Information Officer has been designated to coordinate compliance with the nondiscrimination requirements contained in Section of the Department of Justice Regulations. Requests for assistance should be directed to the Information Officer at the telephone numbers shown above. ii

3 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion Overview In the past, the road to college completion generally followed the same pathway after high school, students continued to a four-year institution but changing demographics has led more students to pursue other roads to completion. Nationally, the traditional first-time full-time (FT/FT) student population has shrunk. In Maryland, the FT/FT student population at the public four-year institutions has declined 8.9% since fiscal 2009, as shown in Exhibit 1. While the FT/FT students dropped at the four-year institutions, transfers from Maryland community colleges grew 10.1%, showing they will play a key role in not only maintaining or increasing enrollment at four-year institutions but also in helping them meet their completion goals. Additionally, the growing segment of transfer students helps to address the issue of access for generally lower income and minority students enrolled at two-year institutions by allowing students to begin at a lower-cost community college and hopefully earn an associate s degree or 60 credits before transferring to a four-year institution. 16,000 14,000 12,000 10,000 8,000 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 Exhibit 1 Opening Fall Enrollments First-time, Full-time Students and Community College Transfers Fiscal * 2014* USM MSU SMCM Total Maryland Transfers MSU: Morgan State University SMCM: St. Mary s College of Maryland USM: University System of Maryland *Maryland Higher Education Commission data on Maryland community college transfers was not available. Source: Maryland Higher Education Commission, Opening Fall Enrollments, and Performance of Maryland Community College Transfer Students at Public Four-year Colleges and Universities 1

4 2 Department of Legislative Services As shown in Exhibit 2, in Maryland, transfer students comprise 12% of undergraduate students enrolled in public four-year institutions in fall This is the same proportion as first-time, full- and part-time students. If current trends persist, transfers will comprise an increasingly larger share of total enrollment as FT/FT students decline. Exhibit 2 Composition of Maryland Enrollment at Public Four-year Institutions Fall 2013 First-time, Full- and Parttime 12% Transfers 12% Continuing Students 76% Source: Morgan State University; St. Mary s College of Maryland; University System of Maryland College Completion Goals Chapter 533 College Completion Goals College and Career Readiness and College Completion Act of 2013 (CCRCCA) was enacted last year to better prepare Maryland students for college and careers in high school and postsecondary education. In terms of college completion, the law codified the State goal that by 2025, at least 55% of the State s residents, age 25 to 64 years old, will hold at least an associate s degree. It also established a State goal that students who transfer from a community college to a four-year institution earn an associate s degree before transferring. Encouraging students to complete an associate s degree before transferring to a four-year institution is one of the key strategies that the State has adopted to reach the 55% completion goal. It also benefits students to enroll in lower-cost community colleges for their general education requirements before transferring to complete a baccalaureate degree.

5 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 3 While the State s 55% college completion goal includes two-year degrees, increasing the attainment of bachelor s degrees is not only critical for the country and State to maintain its competiveness but also increases the economic wellbeing of those with a degree. In Maryland, those with an associate s degree, on average, earn $12,000 more annually than if they only had a high school diploma, and those with a bachelor s degree earn about $10,000 more than if they had an associate s degree, as shown in Exhibit 3. $60,000 Exhibit 3 Estimate of Median Income Based on Level of Education for 25- to 64-year-olds Calendar 2010 $50,000 $40,000 $30,000 $20,000 $10,000 $0 High School Diploma Some College but No Degree Associateʼs Degree Bachelorʼs Degree Maryland Nation Source: National Center for Higher Education Management Systems Information Center Role of Two-year Institutions in Success of Four-year Completion For many students, the path to a four-year degree begins at a two-year institution. In fall 2012, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than 42.0% of U.S. college students were enrolled at a two-year institution. In Maryland, the percentage was slightly higher with 48.9% of undergraduate students enrolled in a community college, according to the Maryland Higher Education Commission (MHEC). Nationally, transfers accounted for

6 4 Department of Legislative Services 41.0% of the students completing degrees at four-year institutions, as shown in Exhibit 4. In Maryland, students who transferred from a two-year institution earned 40.0% of the four-year degrees with only two competitor states Washington and Virginia at 42.0 and 45.0%, respectively having higher percentages. Nationally, California, Wyoming, and Texas have the highest percentages in the country at 65.0%, 71.0%, and 78.0%, respectively. 50% 45% 40% 35% 30% 25% 20% 15% 10% 5% 0% Exhibit 4 Students Completing Degrees at Four-year Institutions Who Previously Enrolled at Two-year Institutions Competitor States Fiscal 2011 Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center

7 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 5 Exhibit 5 compares the number of students transferring from a community college to a public four-year institution in fiscal 2009 and The total number of community college students transferring to a public four-year institution increased from 9,702 to 10,685 from fiscal 2009 to Most students transfer from Montgomery College, the Community College of Baltimore County, and Anne Arundel Community College, but an increasing number are transferring from medium-size colleges, particularly Carroll, Harford, and Howard community colleges. About 70.0% of community college students will transfer to one of four institutions: the University of Maryland, College Park; Towson University (TU); the University of Maryland University College (UMUC); or the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), as shown in Exhibit 6. Students transferring to a University System of Maryland (USM) institution are considered qualified for admission if they have an associate s degree or 56 or more credits and a minimum grade point average of 2.0. According to policy (III-4.00), if the number of transfer applicants exceeds the number that can be accommodated, admission will be based on the same criteria as native students. Overall, from fiscal 2009 to 2012, Morgan State University (MSU) experienced the highest rate of growth of transfers, increasing 87.8%, followed by TU and UMBC at 23.6 and 22.8%, respectively. 2,500 Exhibit 5 Maryland Community College Transfers by Institution Fiscal 2009 and ,000 1,500 1, Source: Maryland Higher Education Commission, Performance of Maryland Community College Transfer Students at Public Four-Year Colleges and Universities

8 6 Department of Legislative Services 3,000 Exhibit 6 Institutions Receiving Maryland Community College Transfer Students Fiscal 2009 and ,500 2,000 1,500 1, UMB UMCP BSU TU UMES FSU CSU UB SU UMUC UMBC MSU SMCM BSU: Bowie State University CSU: Coppin State University FSU: Frostburg State University MSU: Morgan State University SMCM: St. Mary s College of Maryland SU: Salisbury University UB: University of Baltimore UMBC: University of Maryland Baltimore County UMCP: University of Maryland, College Park UMES: University of Maryland Eastern Shore UMUC: University of Maryland University College Source: Maryland Higher Education Commission, Performance of Maryland Community College Transfer Students at Public Four-Year Colleges and Universities

9 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 7 Success of Transfer Students The majority of students who transfer from a two-year institution are successful in obtaining a four-year degree. Various factors influence the ability of a transfer student to complete a four-year degree, ranging from transferring with or without a credential to the availability of financial aid. Nationally, students who transferred to a four-year institution with a credential (i.e., associate s degree or certificate) obtained a four-year degree at a higher rate (71.6%) compared to those who transferred with no credential (55.9%), as illustrated in Exhibit 7. While Maryland does not collect data on this metric, as part of Complete College America (CCA), the State, along with 33 other states, is collecting and reporting on common progression metrics that have not previously been available, such as time and credit to degree. Exhibit 8 shows the proportion of the fall 2007 full-time community college cohort who transferred to a public four-year institution with and without an associate s degree. Of the total 5,452 students that transferred to a four-year institution by August 30, 2011, 1,764, or 32.4%, had earned an associate s degree before transferring. While Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Baltimore County community colleges accounted for 47.5% of the transfers, on average, only 31.7% transferred with a degree. In contrast, almost half of those that transferred from Chesapeake and Hagerstown had a degree. Exhibit 7 National Student Completion of a Four-year Degree Six Years After Transfer Cohort 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Completion at a Four-year Institution Still Enrolled Not Enrolled in Any Institution With a Two-year Degree/Certificate Without a Two-year Degree/Certificate Source: National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, Signature Report Baccalaureate Attainment

10 8 Department of Legislative Services Exhibit 8 Maryland Community College Students Transferring with a Degree 2007 Cohort 1, % 1, % % 29.9% 34.2% 30.2% 37.2% 34.9% 49.1% 23.6% 23.3% 35.5% 47.2% 19.0% 33.8% 30.3% 0 Without Associate Degree With Associate Degree Note: Percentage of students transferring with an associate s degree is shown. Source: Maryland public higher education institutions self-reported data submitted to Complete College America It should be noted that while CCA strives to collect a common data set across institutions and states, there are some limitations to the data. Like other national data sets, the data does not yet accurately capture the various pathways students are taking in pursuing a postsecondary degree. Data does not capture the outcomes of those students who fall outside the traditional metrics, such as those whose enrollment status changes from full- to part-time and back again (referred to as mixed enrollment) or transfer to multiple institutions both in- and out-of-state. In general, the more time it takes for a student to complete a degree, the less likely they are to graduate. Those community college students who transfer to a four-year institution with 60 or more credits may be more sensitive to the time and costs needed to achieve a degree; the costs associated with excess credits may lead them to drop out of school. CCRCCA requires the standard number of credits for a bachelor s degree to be 120 credits except for programs requiring five years of coursework or programs fulfilling external accreditation standards,

11 Credits Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 9 mirroring USM s Board of Regents policy (III-8.02). Exhibit 9 depicts the average number of credits the 2007 Maryland community college transfer cohort accumulated at the four-year institution toward earning a degree. On average, students who transferred with 60 credits or more had taken 62.8 credits at the public four-year institution toward a bachelor s degree, which suggests that many students are taking more credits than necessary to graduate. The combined total of at least credits is more than the 120 credit cap. Students who transferred in with less than 30 credits took more credits at the four-year institution, but given the broad ranges, it is not possible to determine how many total credits students are taking Exhibit 9 Credits to Four-year Degree by Credits Transferred in the 2007 Community College Transfer Cohort or Fewer Credits 31 to 59 Credits 60 or More Credits BSU: Bowie State University CSU: Coppin State University FSU: Frostburg State University MSU: Morgan State University SMCM: St. Mary s College of Maryland SU: Salisbury University TU: Towson University UB: University of Baltimore UMB: University of Maryland, Baltimore UMBC: University of Maryland Baltimore County UMCP: University of Maryland, College Park UMES: University of Maryland Eastern Shore UMUC: University of Maryland University College Note: Data is suppressed for 10 or fewer students at an institution to protect the privacy of students. Source: Maryland public higher education institutions self-reported data submitted to Compete College America

12 10 Department of Legislative Services One measure of student progress is the portion of credit hours completed out of those attempted during an academic year, which is shown in Exhibit 10. Transfer students completed more credit hours attempted than the native students at six institutions Bowie State University (BSU), Coppin State University (CSU), Frostburg State University (FSU), MSU, the University of Baltimore (UB), and UMUC. In general, it would be expected the higher the completion rate and the more credits are earned, the less time it should take students to earn a degree. Exhibit 10 Attempted Credit Hours Completed Academic Year Full-time Part-time Transfers Bowie State University 78.9% 73.5% 80.5% Coppin State University 76.4% 63.1% 82.7% Frostburg State University 82.0% 18.2% 88.4% Morgan State University 69.0% 61.1% 84.6% Salisbury University 90.6% n/a 85.4% St. Mary s College of Maryland 94.2% n/a 89.1% Towson University 91.7% 91.7% 86.0% University of Baltimore 65.6% 63.1% 81.8% University of Maryland Eastern Shore 85.8% 94.5% 90.4% University of Maryland, Baltimore n/a n/a 97.2% University of Maryland Baltimore County 92.0% 84.9% 88.1% University of Maryland, College Park 95.3% 90.4% 90.5% University of Maryland University College 44.8% 49.2% 66.2% Statewide Average 86.4% 64.4% 82.4% Source: Maryland public higher education institutions self-reported data submitted to Complete College America As shown in Exhibit 11, transfer students typically earn a four-year degree within two to four years after transferring to the institution. Usually the more credits a student transfers in with, the less time it will take to obtain a degree. Those students transferring to UMUC and CSU with 30 or less credits took 8.72 and 6.02 years, respectively, to graduate, exceeding the State average of 4.77 years. However, when UMUC is excluded, the statewide average falls to 3.94 years, showing the impact its nontraditional student population has on the average. UMUC s students are generally adult students attending part time and, therefore, take longer to complete a degree. It should be noted that while it takes longer for UMUC students to graduate, Exhibit 9 shows that these students accumulated less credits than those at other institutions

13 Years Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion Exhibit 11 Time to Four-year Degree by Number of Credits Transferred in 2007 Community College Transfer Cohort or Fewer Credits 60 or More Credits BSU: Bowie State University CSU: Coppin State University FSU: Frostburg State University MSU: Morgan State University SMCM: St. Mary s College of Maryland SU: Salisbury University TU: Towson University UB: University of Baltimore UMB: University of Maryland, Baltimore UMBC: University of Maryland Baltimore County UMCP: University of Maryland, College Park UMES: University of Maryland Eastern Shore UMUC: University of Maryland University College USM: University System of Maryland Source: Maryland public higher education institutions self-reported data submitted to Complete College America toward earning their degrees and, in fact, fall below the average of the State. This is another indication of the unique character of UMUC s student population, and given the length of time to earn a degree, students may be more highly motivated to ensure they only take courses needed to graduate. When UMUC is not included, four institutions BSU, CSU, MSU, and UMBC are at or above the State average, regardless of the number of credits a student transfers. Students who transfer with 60 or more credits, equivalent to approximately one-half of a four-year degree, on average, graduate in 2.5 (without UMUC) to 3 years (with UMUC). Not surprisingly, UMUC students take the longest time at just over 4 years; the shortest time of just under 2 years is at the University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB). This reflects the small number of pre-professional undergraduates, primarily nursing students, at UMB. Taken together, these two metrics of credit and time to degree indicate that there are opportunities to improve transfer student progression helping them earn a degree in a more timely manner.

14 12 Department of Legislative Services Ultimately, the goal is to increase the number of transfer students who earn a four-year degree. Exhibit 12 compares the two- and four-year graduation rates of transfer students who transferred in fiscal 2006 and Overall, slightly over half of the transfer students will graduate in four years with an average rate of 51.5%, and only 12.0% will graduate in two years. UMUC has the lowest two-year and four-year rates, although both rates increased from the 2006 to 2009 cohort. Four institutions BSU, CSU, TU, and UMBC experienced a decline in their four-year rates, and two-year rates decreased at three institutions BSU, UB, and St. Mary s College of Maryland. 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Exhibit 12 Two- and Four-year Graduation Rates of Maryland Community Colleges Transfers Fiscal 2006 and 2009 Cohorts UMCP BSU TU UMES FSU CSU UB SU UMUC UMBC MSU SMCM 2006 Cohort Two-year 2009 Cohort Two-year 2006 Cohort Four-year 2009 Cohort Four-year BSU: Bowie State University CSU: Coppin State University FSU: Frostburg State University MSU: Morgan State University SMCM: St. Mary s College of Maryland SU: Salisbury University TU: Towson University UB: University of Baltimore UMB: University of Maryland, Baltimore UMBC: University of Maryland Baltimore County UMCP: University of Maryland, College Park UMES: University of Maryland Eastern Shore UMUC: University of Maryland University College USM: University System of Maryland Note: Graduation rates for USM institutions include those students who transferred in and then transferred and earned a degree at another USM institution. MSU and SMCM rates reflect only those students who transferred and earned a degree at that institution. Source: University System of Maryland, Patterns of Enrollment and Success Updated through FY 2011; Maryland Higher Education Commission, Performance of Maryland Community College Transfer Students at Public Four-year Colleges and Universities

15 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 13 Improving Transfer Students Attainment of a Bachelor s Degree CCRCCA adopted a number of policies statewide that are intended to improve student success, many of which will benefit transfer students, including providing financial incentives for students to receive a degree before transferring and requiring degree pathways and college advising for students beginning the semester they enroll in college. Targeted Financial Aid CCRCCA requires MHEC and public higher education institutions to develop incentives to encourage students to obtain an associate s degree before transferring and requires public higher education institutions to dedicate a portion of institutional aid to Maryland community college students who transfer with an associate s degree. The USM Board of Regents identified financial aid as a critical issue for this academic year and is examining the issues surrounding financial aid and developing recommendations to help students persist and complete a degree. As such, USM is analyzing institutional aid programs, looking at the correlation between how aid is awarded between FT/FT and transfer students, by type of aid need and merit and completion. USM s analysis found that 59% of transfer students who receive some type of institutional aid graduated within four years of transferring compared to 33% who did not receive any aid. USM further analyzed the effect of aid on new transfer students by the Expected Family Contribution (EFC). As illustrated in Exhibit 13, there is a significant increase of 28 percentage points in the graduation rate for those that received aid with an EFC of $0. Furthermore, the analysis also suggests any need-based aid award contributes to improving the graduation rate of transfer students above the cohort averages of 56 to 70%. Currently, financial aid practices do not reflect the changing nature of student demographics and the pathways they take toward obtaining a four-year degree. Institutions and the State need to develop more effective allocation strategies, balancing aid among the different types of students and targeting those students where aid has the greatest impact on completion. Additionally, consideration should be given to creating financial incentives for transfer students through financial aid programs or reduced tuition. For example, FSU established an Associate Degree Scholarship Award in fiscal 2011 targeting transfer students who graduated with a 3.0 grade point average, bringing down tuition costs for the last two years of a bachelor s degree to that of a community college. Legislation has been introduced this session (SB 785) that creates a 2+2 Transfer Scholarship for community college students who transfer with an associate s degree.

16 14 Department of Legislative Services 70% Exhibit 13 USM New Maryland Community College Transfers Graduation Rated by Average EFC 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% $0 $1 $1,000 $1K $2K $2K $3K $3K $4K $4K $5K $5K $6K Institutional Aid No Institutional Aid EFC: Expected Family Contribution USM: University System of Maryland Source: University System of Maryland Guidance and Transferability of Credits CCRCCA takes steps to help improve the success of community college students who transfer to a public four-year institution. Specifically, the Act requires that at least 60 credits a student earns at a community college must be transferable to any public four-year institution by July 1, This will help create better articulation between community colleges and four-year institutions leading to a better alignment of required credits for a degree resulting in more students completing in a timely fashion, thereby decreasing the cost of a degree to the student, State, and institution.

17 Role of Transfer Students in Meeting College Completion 15 While the Act requires that a community college student, in consultation with an academic advisor, file a degree plan laying out the sequence of courses required for a degree, it does not specify if a plan should reflect a student s plan of transferring to a four-year institution prior to earning a degree. Students, particularly those planning on transferring to a four-year institution, need to be better informed regarding the consequences of their decisions. For example, students should be aware of the relationship between transferring with a credential and the likelihood of earning a bachelor s degree. If students decide to transfer without a degree, they should be provided guidance on selecting courses that count toward a degree. In Maryland, to help smooth the transition to a four-year institution, USM developed and maintains the Articulation System for Maryland Colleges and Universities (ARTSYS), an online database that informs students and advisors at community colleges about the transferability of courses and the equivalent course number at a four-year institution. Students can input transcript information from any community college, select one or more receiving institutions and programs of study, and ARTSYS will evaluate how credits apply to a program or what courses to take at the community college for a particular degree. The system is presently in use at all Maryland public institutions and many independent colleges and universities. Additionally, all public four-year institutions have established articulation agreements with various community colleges, particularly with those colleges that account for most of their transfer students. Typically, these agreements either guarantee an associate s degree will satisfy all freshman and sophomore general education requirements at the four-year institution or specify a list of courses that will be treated as equivalent courses. While ARTSYS provides information on the transferability of credits and courses required for a particular degree at a four-year institution, students need to be informed and encouraged to use the system. This not only reduces a student s time to degree but also the amount of debt accumulated toward completing a four-year degree, which is important as the federal government continually changes its financial aid policies, limiting eligibility and subsidies. Other Obstacles Other efforts that should be considered to remove the barriers transfer students may encounter while earning a bachelor s degree include four-year institutions targeting academic support programs to transfer students. Transfer students have different concerns and needs than the traditional FT/FT students, and targeted programs can help transfer students adjust to a four-year campus. In addition, policymakers may consider rewarding community colleges for increasing the number of students earning a degree before transferring to a four-year institution. For many students the path to earning a four-year degree starts at enrolling in a two-year institution. These students will continue to play a key role in helping these institutions and the State meet their completion goals. While it has been shown a majority of transfer students will be successful, there is still room for improvement to increase the success of these students.

18 16 Department of Legislative Services Next Steps CCRCCA is comprehensive legislation that requires higher education institutions to adopt a number of best practices to improve student progress and success in college. Most of the best practices suggested by experts are in CCRCCA and/or are already being implemented by Maryland and its higher education institutions. The challenge for Maryland is to implement these policies in a timely and effective manner: monitoring the implementation of CCRCCA as well as the effectiveness of these policies will be key to Maryland s success. Regular reporting on implementation and data results, including time and credits to degree are critical to the success. CCRCCA tasks the Governor s P-20 Council with monitoring implementation and reporting regularly; incentivizing students and institutions so that community college students earn an associate s degree before transferring. Dedicating State and institutional aid resources to students who transfer with a degree will incentivize students. Institutions may be encouraged to improve degree attainment if a portion of their State funding is tied to performance; launching a communications campaign to educate community college students (and their parents) who are ultimately seeking a bachelor s degree about the benefits of first earning an associate s degree, as well as financial assistance available to students who transfer with a degree; and enhancing academic supports for transfer students who, as a growing proportion of student population, require different supports such as guidance as they transition from a two-year campus (and likely living at home) to a four-year campus.

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