Only 14 percent of the students who start out in a community college transfer to a four-year university and earn a bachelor’s degree within six years, according to a report released on Tuesday by three groups that are studying ways to plug the leaky pipeline between two- and four-year colleges.
The report was a joint effort of the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College, the Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program, and the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.
The research breaks down how students fare in different states. Even in states with the best track records, including Florida, Illinois, and Kansas, only about one in five community-college students transfers and graduates within six years of entering a two-year college. At the other end of the spectrum, some states have transfer-and-graduation rates in the single digits.
The report is the first phase of an effort supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to help colleges improve their transfer rates.
“Too many students are failed by the current system of transfer between community colleges and universities,” Davis Jenkins, a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center, said in a written statement. “Greater success for more students will cut down on the waste in taxpayer money when students drop out or lose credits as they transfer.”
The report also said that low-income students, who are most likely to start at community colleges, are less likely than their higher-income peers to transfer and graduate with a four-year degree.