Community colleges and guaranteed transfer programs could be your student’s best deal on an affordable college education. Community colleges aren’t a good fit for every student, but can provide a very affordable first step to a 4-year degree. In addition, there are many 2-year degree programs that prepare students to directly enter their chosen fields. I’m not going to focus on those here. Instead, I am going to walk through how community colleges and guaranteed transfer programs to 4-year schools work.
A guaranteed transfer program can greatly reduce the overall 4-year cost of college and remove the anxiety often faced by students starting at a community college over whether they will get full credit for their first two years of coursework if they transfer to a 4-year college.
There are a number of larger guaranteed transfer programs in addition to agreements made only between specific schools. Let’s look at the large programs first.
State-Specific Community College Transfer Programs
Note: Scroll to the bottom to get a listing of all of the state programs and links to each
- Arkansas – Four-year public universities in Arkansas are required to admit students as Juniors if they satisfy the 60-hour state minimum core curriculum through the Arkansas Course Transfer System (ACTS).
- California – As of Fall 2019, the University of California system joins the California State University system in offering guaranteed transfer programs in 21 majors. Through the Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program, six University of California campuses offer guaranteed admission from all California community colleges. only students transferring directly from community college are eligible, but this does include international students with a visa. The link above will take you to a chart with more information on the specifics for each UC campus. California State University calls it the “degree with a guarantee” and says that a student with an Associate in Arts for Transfer or Associate in Science for Transfer from any California community college will guarantee a spot, though not necessarily at a student’s preferred CSU campus. In addition to CSU and UC campuses, there is guaranteed transfer to Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU), Western Governors University, and participating private colleges in California (members of AICCU). Students must meet the minimum admission requirements for the chosen participating university.
- Colorado – Colorado offers the gtPathways program with general education courses guaranteed to transfer to Colorado public universities. There are also transfer degree agreements for a large number of majors that allow students to transfer 60 credits from a Colorado community college to enroll at a 4-year campus as a Junior and complete no more than 60 additional credits.
- Connecticut – Connecticut State Colleges & Universities system has a transfer and articulation policy with community colleges in the state. UCONN does not have such an agreement, but see the next section below for specific UCONN transfer agreements.
- Florida – The state of Florida guarantees that students who complete an AA degree at a Florida college have the opportunity to earn a bachelor’s degree at a state university or Florida college offering four-year degrees. The Florida College System also has transfer agreements with many private colleges in the state.
- Georgia – The Technical College System of Georgia has transfer agreements with the University System of Georgia.
- Hawaii – Completing an Associate of Arts degree at any University of Hawaii Community College fulfills admission and lower-level general education requirements at any University of Hawaii institution.
- Idaho – Students who complete requirements for an AA or AS at a regionally accredited post-secondary institution in Idaho will have satisfied the general education requirement upon transfer to a four-year public institution in Idaho and will not be required to complete any additional general education requirements.
- Illinois – The Illinois Articulation Initiative is a statewide transfer agreement, which is transferable among more than 100 participating colleges and universities in Illinois.
- Iowa – There are agreements between Iowa’s 15 community colleges and the 3 Regents Universities (University of Iowa, Iowa State University and University of Northern Iowa).
- Kansas – Kansas has a general agreement that associate degrees from Kansas community colleges and technical colleges will transfer into the state’s 4-year public colleges.
- Kentucky – Has a general program aligning community college and technical college AA and AS degrees to related bachelors programs where the AA and AS coursework satisfies all general education requirements.
- Louisiana – The Louisiana Transfer Associate Degree program allows students to complete the first 60 hours towards a baccalaureate degree at a 2-year or community college. They are then eligible to enter a 4-year Louisiana public university with Junior standing.
- Maine – The AdvantageU program allows students to complete an Associate in Arts in Liberal Studies degree at one of Maine’s 7 community colleges and then receive guaranteed admission as a transfer student to any University in the University of Maine system.
- Maryland – Maryland community colleges allow for AA and AS degree programs to transfer all coursework to 4-year Maryland public institutions. The University of Maryland has a specific Maryland Transfer Advantage Program that partners with 8 Maryland community colleges.
- Massachusetts – The MassTransfer program offers students 3 different options for guaranteed transfer from community college to a 4-year school. The most affordable is the Commonwealth Commitment program where the student must complete an Associates Degree at a Massachusetts community college within 2.5 years and then is able to transfer to a UMass campus or a Massachusetts State University campus to complete a bachelors’ degree full-time within 2 years. They receive a tuition freeze and a 10% rebate at the end of every semester. They also receive additional tuition credit upon enrollment at the 4-year campus.
- Minnesota – Applies only to the Minnesota State college and university system. A student can start at a Minnesota State college and then transfer through the Transfer Pathways program to any of the 7 Minnesota State Universities.
- Mississippi – Has a statewide articulation agreement where MS students can pursue a bachelor’s degree by first attending a community college and then transferring to a MS public 4-year institution.
- Missouri – Has a state-standardized core curriculum for public colleges and universities. The core transfer curriculum, known as CORE 42, is a framework for general education that all Missouri public two-and four-year institutions of higher education will adopt effective for the 2018-2019 academic year. The goal of the CORE 42 is to facilitate the seamless transfer of academic credits. The completion of the CORE 42 at any public institution of higher education will transfer to every other public institution of higher education in the state and fulfill that institution’s general education requirement. Individual courses that comprise the CORE 42 are guaranteed to transfer one-to-one among all public colleges and universities.
- Nevada – The Nevada System of Higher Education has a program to allow students with associates degrees from Nevada two-year institutions to transfer to Nevada 4-year institutions with guaranteed admission and receive full credit for meeting the general education requirements.
- New Jersey – New Jersey’s College2College program allows for students receiving associates degrees from NJ community colleges to transfer to 4-year NJ public colleges and universities with half the credits for the 4-year degree fulfilled. Students must meet the minimum entry requirements of the 4-year school to be admitted.
- New York – The state university system of New York has a transfer guarantee for students with an AA or AS degree from a State University of New York or City University two-year college. Students must be New York residents and must meet the admission requirements for the State University they are transferring to.
- North Carolina – North Carolina Community College transfer students who successfully complete an associates degree and who seek admission to a University of North Carolina institution or any of the North Carolina Independent Colleges and Universities who participate in the CAA are guaranteed to be granted Junior status at the 4-year school.
- Ohio – Students are guaranteed the transfer of applicable credits among Ohio’s public colleges and universities and equitable treatment in the application of credits to admissions and degree requirements.
- Oklahoma – If you decide to transfer to an Oklahoma public four-year university with an associate in arts or associate in science degree (two-year degrees) from another Oklahoma public college, State Regents’ policy guarantees that your associate degree will satisfy all freshman and sophomore general education requirements at the four-year university.
- Oregon – Statewide transfer degrees satisfy the lower division general education requirements of baccalaureate degrees at the public universities in Oregon. They assure a student who transfers to a university will hold junior status for registration purposes, but neither guarantee admittance to a university or to a program, nor assure junior-level standing in a particular major.
- Pennsylvania – PA TRAC program aligns certain associates degrees to the first 60 credits of bachelor’s degrees in popular areas of study.
- South Carolina – Statewide transfer agreements are designed to enhance the transfer of academic credits by promoting a seamless transition for the students from one institution to another.
- South Dakota – The Interstate Passport is a program that enables students to easily transfer general education credits earned at institutions around the state to one of the 26 partner institution around the nation. In other words, if you complete courses at a public university in South Dakota, you can transfer those credits to another institution in that participates in the Interstate Passport Program (including other public universities in the state).
- Tennessee – A student who completes all the courses listed on a particular Transfer Pathway will earn an A.A. or A.S. degree at the community college. When the student transfers to a Tennessee public or private college/university the transcript will certify that the pathway has been followed. The student is guaranteed that all the community college courses taken will be accepted at the college/university and the courses will count toward completion of the particular major.
- Utah – The Utah System of Higher Education ensures that all of it’s member schools have a common set of transferable general education requirements and reciprocity agreements.
- Vermont – The Vermont State Colleges’ Direct Admissions program gives Community College of Vermont students guaranteed transfer admission to Castleton University, Johnson State College, Lyndon State College or Vermont Technical College.
- Virginia – Through system-wide agreements, students who graduate from one of Virginia’s 23 community colleges with an associate’s degree and a minimum grade point average may obtain guaranteed admission to more than 30 of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities.
- Washington – Washington has programs for direct transfer of associates degrees into bachelor’s degree programs through Washington’s public community and technical colleges.
- West Virginia – There are agreements in place between the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission and the Community and Technical College System of WV to make core coursework easily transferable between the community and technical colleges and the state’s 4-year public colleges.
- Wisconsin – The University of Wisconsin system has a guaranteed transfer program between their 14 2-year campuses and all the 4-year campuses in the state.
- Wyoming – Guaranteed admission program between the state’s community colleges and University of Wyoming.
Individual Community College Transfer Programs
These are some of the programs I ran across as I researched state transfer programs. I’m sure there are many more out there.
- University of Arizona – UA Bridge Program is a partnership between Arizona community colleges and the University of Arizona. Students may be eligible for a $2,000 renewable scholarship.
- University of Connecticut (UCONN) – UCONN has a guaranteed admissions program with Connecticut community colleges for students transferring into Liberal Arts & Sciences, Agriculture & Natural Resources, Business, and Engineering. This program offers guaranteed admission to the University of Connecticut once the associate degree has been earned, appropriate courses have been completed, and minimum grades and requirements for the selected program have been achieved.
- Delaware State University – Allows an associate degree to transfer from selected two-year institutions. Check with the admissions office.
- Regents’ Engineering Pathway Program (REPP) in Georgia – Allows students to complete core curriculum requirements for an engineering degree and then transfer into Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia Southern University, Kennesaw State University, Mercer University, and the University of Georgia.
- University of Idaho – Has Transfer Pathways program that has articulation agreements with specific institutions.
- University of Illinois Chicago – Has a Transfer Admission Guarantee program with specific community colleges in Illinois.
- Loyola Marymount University – Has a transfer guarantee program with 15 community colleges.
- College of Lake County – This community college in Grayslake, Illinois has guaranteed admission agreeements with the following 4-year colleges: American Business School (Paris, France), Arizona State University, Carthage College (WI), Columbia College (MO), DePaul University (IL), Eastern Illinois University, Elmhurst College (IL), George Williams College of Aurora University (WI), Herzing University (WI), Illinois State University, Lake Forest College (IL), National Louis University (IL), Marquette University (WI), North Central College (IL), Northeastern Illinois University, Northern Illinois University, Olivet Nazarene University (IL), School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Southern Illinois University, Trinity International University (IL), University of Illinois Chicago, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign, University of Iowa, University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and University of Wisconsin Parkside.
- University of Minnesota Twin Cities – the MnCAP program teams up UMN with 7 public 2-year campuses in the metro Twin Cities area to offer guaranteed transfer into a list of specific UMN majors.
- Northern Virginia Community College – Offers Guaranteed Admission Agreements with over 40 area colleges including highly competitive colleges.
- University of South Carolina – Columbia – Has a Bridge Program with the state’s technical colleges.
- University of Utah – The invite-only Access U program offers select students direct admission to Salt Lake Community College (SLCC), with a guaranteed transfer to the University of Utah upon meeting certain requirements. Students who accept their invitation to this program start at SLCC and work toward an approved associate’s degree. Upon completion of your degree and other program requirements, you’re guaranteed admission and a scholarship to the U to complete a bachelor’s degree—no application needed.
- University of Texas – Austin – The University of Texas at Austin and Austin Community College have a co-enrollment program to freshmen that will enable qualifying students the chance to earn an associate degree from ACC and guaranteed admission to The University of Texas at Austin to earn a bachelor’s degree. It is called the Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment (PACE) program.
- West Virginia University – A number of different articulation agreements are offered to make it easy to transfer into WVU from the participating institutions.
- Southern West Virginia Community & Technical College – This school has a number of transfer agreements with public and private colleges in WV and beyond.
- West Virginia Northern Community College – This school has a number of transfer agreements with public and private colleges in WV and beyond.
- Las Positas College (CA) – Has guaranteed transfer admission policies with St. Mary’s College of CA and University of the Pacific.
To sum things up, you can find both state-specific community college transfer programs and school-specific transfer programs. These programs vary as to whether admission to the 4-year program is guaranteed or if the student is just guaranteed to receive full credit IF accepted into the 4-year program.
If your student would benefit from starting at a community college or technical college, both academically and financially, start exploring what is offered in your state and also look at all the community colleges in your area to see what individual agreements they may have with 4-year schools. I was pleasantly surprised to find agreements with private colleges in addition to the expected ones with public colleges. Two years at a community college and then a transfer to a private college could save a ton of money compared to the 4-year private college cost.
One more option to consider – Some parents find that it is still very affordable to send their student to a non-commutable community college in their state and pay for housing compared to the price at a 4-year school. This is especially true if that community college offers a guaranteed transfer program.
As mentioned above, if you’d like a spreadsheet with the links to more information about all the state-specific community college transfer programs above, enter your email address in the box to the left.