Transfer Issues


“Transfer should not be a consolation prize.”

Supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and part of a statewide effort to increase postsecondary success, NYSACAC’s efforts – “Engaging Decision Makers on Attainment Targets and Student Success” – known as the Student Success Project focused on the successes and failures of the college transfer process. The specific discussions and research that comprised NYSACAC’s effort fed into the larger dialogue about increasing the number of New York State residents with meaningful postsecondary degrees and certificates. Along with these transfer-specific issues, NYSACAC was an active participant in generating a statement about Equity in Education, an issue that became all-too-clear with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Association continues to contribute to this important effort.

The creation of a Transfer Issues section on NYSACAC’s website calls attention to the importance of this work going forward.  While this is a place to store the myriad documents generated by the Project, it also should serve as a starting point for important conversations that will bring about meaningful enhancements to the college transfer process – including incorporating transfer pathway strategies into the postsecondary advising sessions in high school.

“Transfer should not be a consolation prize” was mentioned during one of our Virtual Conversations and has become the mantra of this effort.  Once seen as a “do-over” or second choice, a movement is taking place in American higher education – one that has been working in a variety of ways for the past two decades – that demonstrates, for a variety of reasons and for a variety of people, transfer pathways – particularly those that partner community colleges with four-year institutions – can contribute significantly to student success and the building of a strong 21st Century workforce.

It has been my utmost honor and extreme pleasure to work with the committed professionals throughout the state of New York, most particularly NYSACAC’s membership, on this Project.  I wish you all great success in this endeavor and will continue to cheer on your efforts from the sidelines.

Kurt Thiede
Project Manager

NYSACAC Contacts

NYS Association of College Admissions Counseling -
NYSACAC Transfer Special Interest Group - [email protected] 

Table of Contents – Resource Sections

Professional Advice

The many conversations that took place during the Student Success Project indicated a need for a place that counselors and advisors working with students at all phases of the postsecondary planning could go to ask for advice, particularly about the college transfer process. Along with responses to a list of regular questions, a list of resource people and their contact information is provided. Plus, you can submit your question for a response.  These will then be added to the list of regular questions.


  • How soon should my student begin considering transfer as part of their postsecondary college plans?

  • What financial aid issues should be addressed as a student considers starting at a community college to then transfer to a four-year institution?

  • How are Early College credits viewed within the context of a community-college-to-four-year-college transfer plan?

Transfer Champions 

One of NYSACAC’s special interest groups (SIGs) focuses on how transfer between community colleges and four-year institutions can be encouraged and supported.

Community College/Transfer SIG – Co-Chairs: Dave Follick & Robin Graff

The Community College/Transfer SIG is designed to engage people in discussion about the unique issues facing community colleges and transfer students. This is a special interest group for the discussion of issues that relate specifically to the students at community colleges and those that transfer from a community college to a 4-year institution.

For more information, please email [email protected]

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Featured Programs

NYSACAC member institutions offer a variety of programs that serve as sources of information and inspiration. As schools consider developing additional transfer-friendly programs, these examples provide roadmaps to consider. 

A group of colleges in New England have embarked on a program that connects community colleges with four-year institutions:

An example of a national program available to NYSACAC institutions.

  • Gateway to College is a national program designed to help nontraditional students succeed in their postsecondary pursuits.

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Transfer Tools

These “tools of the trade” now utilized by institutions, systems, and organizations provide useful insight and, perhaps, a quick start to projects being considered.

  • Bronx Transfer Affinity Group (BTAG) encourages and facilitates transfer to Lehman College from four CUNY community colleges.  Aspects of BTAG include Guaranteed Admissions Agreements, Blanket Articulation Agreements, and Program Alignment Tables. 

National programs with valuable information for NYSACAC members.

  • The Transfer Playbook:  Essential Practices for Two- and Four-Year Colleges 
    Based on the experiences of six community college-public four-year university partnerships, the “playbook” provides a handy how-to manual, complete with “lessons learned” and punch lists of “to do’s.” This document is the result of a joint effort by The Aspen Institute’s College Excellence Program and the Community College Research Center at Teachers College of Columbia University. The full downloadable playbook can be found at the above link.  A document that culls highlights from this lengthy report is included in this e-resource packet.  

  • Guided Pathways Demystified II:  Addressing 10 New Questions as the Movement Gains Momentum 
    This is the second “chapter” of a common-sense guide written by the head of the National Center for Inquiry & Improvement (NCII), Dr. Rob Johnstone and his colleague, Kelley Karandjeff, EdM.  NCII worked very closely with a significant contributor to the work of guided pathways for community college students, Completion by Design ( Although focused on community colleges, this effort – funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation – was an early messenger about the benefit of designing pathways for success. There are lessons that all higher education institutions can glean from these experiences and adapt to their specific situations.

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Best Practices

Taking the approach that “there is nothing new under the sun” or “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” best practices can serve as models for new program design or existing program enhancement. Many “best” practices are also “transferrable” practices.

  • “Making Cents”
    A financial literacy program designed to help SUNY Oneonta students plan for their post-college lives.

  • Erie Community College’s “Traveled Pathways” initiative provides middle school and high school students guidance by looking back at high school courses taken by ‘role model’ college students who have already graduated from SUNY Erie. The coursework taken by such students can be used by high school counselors as a course/career guide for students they advise.

    Traveled Pathways program guides for terminal degree programs have ben created for use by school counselors and career teachers at the middle/high school level. The project began in Fall 2020 with a few schools within the city of Buffalo school system. Outreach is taking place with additional schools on an ongoing basis.

    For more information, contact Mark Mazzone, Principal Counselor, ECC South Campus
    at [email protected]

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Case Studies

These actual situations call attention to areas in need of improvement to better support students wishing to complete their college education:

  • EOP Travels – Because of the way in which the Education Opportunity Program (EOP) is administered, a student within the CUNY system has to travel a distance from his home community to take advantage of the financial benefits of EOP.

  • Stretched Thin – Why do so few community college students who indicate plans to complete a four-year degree actually do so?  One of the reasons explored in this study is the significantly low number of transfer advisors available at these schools.

  • Summer Aid – Aid policy restrictions can prevent high-need students from completed needed work and/or enrich their academic experiences.

  • The Disappearing Merit Scholarship – Why is the merit scholarship offered by a four-year institution to a student coming right out of high school, but is no longer available if that student must take a year at a community college before enrolling?

  • The Merit Scholarship Drain – Spending institutional funds on no-need/above-need merit scholarships drains money away from better meeting the demonstrated financial needs of other students.  This can be particularly vexing when a state institution applies this practice to attract more out-of-state students.

  • The Technology Divide – The pandemic exposed, exacerbated, and caused a number of inequities between and among the various cohorts of students seeking to learn in K-12 and postsecondary education situations.  With online learning becoming more prevalent, the access (or lack thereof) to broadband and up-to-date computers will be more essential to ALL students.

  • This is My Home – College students whose homelives are challenging, even dangerous, often find ways to remain in campus housing as much as possible. Some take courses in the summer; others accept academic assistantships and/or take on paraprofessional staff positions.  What happens when a campus shuts down completely because of external circumstances (e.g., pandemic)?  Another lesson from this recent experience that could impact future policy and practice.

  • Transfer Credit Confusion – While the SUNY and CUNY systems continue to refine and strengthen their transfer pathways and the academic credit transfer that is part of these, New York’s independent colleges continue to manage the transfer credit situations in an idiosyncratic manner.  Is there a better way to do this? A way that maintains the integrity of each institution’s academic plan while providing prospective transfer students with timely information on which they can base a decision.

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Professional Development Presentations/Panels

During the Student Success Project presentations were made to a number of professional associations and groups. These are listed below in chronological order and include a link to the actual presentation:

  • NYSTAAPresentation on May 28, 2020 – As the professional association focused on transfer issues, this session with members of the New York State Transfer and Articulation Association informed the participants of the Project and generated information helpful to its work.

  • NJ/NY ACRAO – Presentation on November 15, 2020 – Another opportunity to share information about the Project and generate helpful information.

  • NYSACAC New Professionals – Presentation on March 12, 2021 – A session designed to inform new professionals about the opportunities and challenges of the college transfer process. 

  • School Counselors – Presentation on March 24, 2021 – A session focused on the questions school counselors have regarding the college transfer process.

  • NYSSCA ConferencePresentation on November 5. 2021 – Another opportunity to discuss college transfer issues with school counselors.

  • Student Success Project Wrap-Up – Presentation on December 8, 2021 – Pursuant to the November 2021 regional sessions, an opportunity to highlight the findings generated during the Project’s two years and discuss possible next steps.

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Complete Project Reports

At the conclusion of each Project activity, a report was generated and posted on the Association’s website. While highlights of each report comprise much of the information and many of the resources listed in this Transfer Issues section, these complete reports are available at the following links:

  • Virtual Conversations – This eight-week series of one-hour virtual meetings held in Spring 2020 generated a lot of helpful information, informed the framework for the rest of the Project and the recommendations moving forward, and connected people whose collaborations will be integral to future successes. Two hundred and ninety-eight (298) contributed to these conversations, sharing their perspectives, their success stories, and their concerns. The full report can be found here, and the executive summary here.

  • Virtual Convenings –“Achieving College Attainment and Success Goals Through a Shared Vision and Collaborative Efforts" – Two half-day sessions broadened the conversation to include many of the collaborators from the New York statewide effort supported by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The PowerPoint presentation that guided these conversations can be found here. The report provides a blueprint for possible next steps for NYSACAC and its partner organizations.

  • Regional Meetings – In November 2021, three regional on-site meetings were held hosted by: Adelphi University, Erie Community College, and Marist College. Each session engaged a variety of professionals in conversation about how the Association could best utilize the information gathered and connections made during the Project. The summary of these three sessions is reflected in the Student Success Project Wrap-Up.

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