Making Bold Changes to Ease the transition for Transfer Students

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John W. Dysart
The Dysart Group

As demographics continue to decline, the value proposition for college is under attack and competition increases, the need to increase or stabilize new student enrollment is paramount for most colleges and universities.

Transfer students can be a valuable source of new enrollments for many colleges and universities. The nature of transfer enrollments has changed over the last decade, yet institutions have been slow to adapt.

Schools have become more aggressive in their attempts to lure transfer students but often have introduced traditional tactics and half-measures to attract transfer students.

Scholarships and Grants

Affordability is a key metric for transfer students so many institutions now have scholarship and grant programs designed specifically for the transfer market.

Transfer grants and scholarships are great, but bolder mechanisms may be necessary.

  • Consider increasing the amount of merit scholarships and grants to make the starting net price more competitive.
  • Review your packaging formula to ensure that even after merit assistance you are prepared to meet a reasonable percentage of financial need.
  • Understand that more and more transfer students have attended multiple institutions in the past. Such history often means that they might run out of state or federal eligibility for some financial aid programs before they can secure enough credits to graduate. Is your Financial Aid Office prepared to address aid gaps for these students even if it means higher discount rates?
  • Your Financial Aid Office may need to consider estimated financial aid packages for both incomplete transfer applicants and transfer inquiries. Transfer students tend to be more informed consumers and sometimes wish to get an idea of the net price prior to completing the admission process.

Transcript Evaluations

Virtually everyone understands the importance of transcript evaluations in the transfer process and every college and university has a procedure in place to review transcripts. Evaluation outcomes are critical for prospective transfer students because they will impact the length of time it takes to complete a degree, will determine the remaining cost of the degree, will have vital implications for financial aid eligibility and student debt and will establish how soon students will be able to enter the workforce.

Transcript evaluations are great, but bolder approaches may be necessary.

  1. Reduce the number of credits needed to graduate.
  2. Reduce the cap on allowable transfer credits.
  3. Be more lenient in granting credit for work and life experience.

Easing the process for transfer students will take more than just talk. It is important to consider difficult changes in institutional policy and process to make your school more attractive to transfer students.

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