Lessons from a Statewide Transfer Grant Program

Impacts of the Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program on Community College Student Transfer

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More than half of community college students nationwide intend to pursue a four-year degree; however, in Texas only one in four community college students transfer to four-year institutions successfully. Among students who do transfer to a Texas four-year institution, roughly 60 percent go on to graduate with a bachelor’s degree. The result is that only about 15 percent of Texans who start at a community college end up graduating from a four-year institution. To improve transfer rates and, ultimately, bachelor’s degree attainment, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board launched the Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program with money provided by the U.S. Department of Education’s Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.

The Texas Transfer Grant Pilot Program included students from every community, technical, and state college in Texas. About 9 percent (89,834) of all Texas community college students were eligible for the grant, which is designed to support community college students from low-income backgrounds who have earned college-level credits and may be considering transferring to a four-year university. The pilot program offered $5,000 grants to about 15 percent of eligible community college students for the fall 2022 semester (a total of nearly 14,000 students). A second grant was later offered to a subset of the same group of students for the spring 2023 semester. The grants were offered to community college students regardless of students’ transfer application status, with the intention of reducing financial barriers to transferring to a four-year institution.

MDRC evaluated the pilot program to build evidence about its efficacy and help inform future THECB decisions about the program. Initial analyses showed the grant offered for use in the fall of 2022 had a 1.5 percentage point impact on transferring to a four-year institution (p < 0.001). This policy brief follows up with additional findings about the pilot program’s impact on students’ enrollment and academic outcomes at Texas four-year institutions during the fall 2022 and spring 2023 semesters—two semesters after students initially received the fall 2022 transfer grant. These additional analyses show that the initial impacts of the first grant on fall academic outcomes are sustained into the spring semester, diminishing slightly in that semester. However, among students who were offered an additional spring 2023 grant, program impacts grew in the spring semester, suggesting that a multisemester program model may offer benefits that compound over time.

Document Details

Publication Type
March 2024
Diamond, John, Sukanya Barman, Rebekah O'Donoghue, and Erick Alonzo. 2024. “Lessons from a Statewide Transfer Grant Program.” New York: MDRC.