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Only 11% of community college (associate’s-degree) students transfer vertically and obtain a bachelor’s degree within six years, despite over 80% originally intending to do so. These leaks in the transfer pipeline disproportionately affect students from underrepresented groups, who are more likely to attend community colleges and to leak out of the pipeline. To obtain insights about how to decrease these leaks, a survey was distributed to all City University of New York undergraduates; 31,511 responded. The survey concerned students’ life and academic circumstances, as well as their information about and views on transfer. Analyses particularly compared responses of never-transferred associate’s and bachelor’s students and vertical transfer students. The results suggest multiple actions that higher education can take to decrease the pipeline leaks and increase higher education equity, including by increasing transfer students’ belongingness, course availability, credit transfer, financial support, information, and time efficiency.


This is the author's accepted manuscript of an article originally published in Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice, available at

The dataset and survey for this research are available at and, respectively.



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