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Transfer Access to Elite Colleges and Universities in the United States

Threading the Needle of the American Dream

Nearly half of all undergraduate students are enrolled in community colleges - and that percentage is on the rise. Among them are millions of full-time students, many from low-income families, and most of traditional college age (18-24). For these students, community college can open doors to opportunity, including serving as a gateway to a four-year degree.

Yet many doors remain closed to even the most talented low-income community college students. Nowhere are these limitations more apparent than in the limited opportunity community college students are granted to transfer to the country's most selective four-year institutions. Top community college students struggle against the mistaken perception by some college administrators and others that community college transfer students cannot succeed at elite institutions. They also face cultural and economic barriers to completing their bachelor's degrees.

Research funded by the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Lumina Foundation for Education, and Nellie Mae Education Foundation examines the economic, informational, and cultural barriers to community college student transfer access to selective institutions.

Read the Executive Summary.