March 2024

Executive Summary

Each of the state-specific admissions guarantees that, together, comprise The New England Transfer Guarantee is shaped by a singular central goal: to increase the salience of transfer statewide so that it is an attainable option for students at various stages of their academic journey. The thinking here has always been that the NEBHE Transfer Initiatives Team can serve a facilitating role in helping connect community college graduates—who we know often intend to complete their bachelor’s degrees—with the four-year transfer destinations where they can follow through on that intention by earning a baccalaureate credential.

In the time since the publication of the inaugural enrollment report, there has been a renewed emphasis on community college transfer at both the federal and state level—influenced by the challenges introduced by the Supreme Court decision banning the use of affirmative action in college admissions decisions and, more generally, the realization that the nation would fall short of the federal completion goals that were set over a decade ago. In Massachusetts, it has been rewarding to see the Guarantee cited in guidance issued by the governor and attorney general on how to meet diversity and equity goals in the wake of the ban on affirmative action. The partnerships that were forged between two and four-year institutions in this initiative have also been cited in a legislatively mandated feasibility study on free community college in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. As NEBHE embarks on a new chapter in its efforts to increase access to higher education in prison in the wake of the July 2023 reinstatement of Pell Grants for all eligible incarcerated learners, a focus on credit mobility has again raised the relevance of the networks built through the Guarantee. Now more than ever, it seems efficient and reliable transfer pathways will be key to achieving the equitable and affordable higher education system of the future.

It is with great excitement that I present this second-annual Guarantee Enrollment Report highlighting the successes of the program thus far and outlining the evidence of the work being done to accomplish the Guarantee’s central goal and serve students across New England. At a juncture when higher education, as a sector, is facing many challenges including a damaged public perception of higher education, the results of this still nascent transfer initiative keep me confident and committed to the value of this work.

As the program grows and data expands NEBHE hopes to one day be able to share associations between data elements that can shed light on this specific population, however more years of transfer data are required in order to responsibly report on any potential trends. That said, in this second enrollment report, we have been able to build on the insights shared in the inaugural report and provide a glimpse into the current cohort with the aim of equipping receiving institutions to best support these students. The data contained in this report reveals the strong accomplishments made in the first two complete academic years and goes beyond high-level aggregate insights to shed light on the nuances of the current cohort with specificity that could only be gathered through analyzing deidentified student-level data. Below I have listed some key findings that I believe are important to highlight:

Key Findings

  • Overall Guarantee enrollment has remained consistent across time. NEBHE was encouraged to see Guarantee enrollment remained consistent across the two academic years—with even a slight (2%) increase from the program’s first year to its second. To date, a total of 786 unique students have transferred to receiving institutions since the program launched in Spring 2021, which represents a 67% increase in total Guarantee enrollment from the 470 unique students analyzed in the inaugural enrollment report.
  • Students participating in the Guarantee are maintaining impressive academic records pre- and post-transfer. The average cumulative community college GPA for Guarantee students between Spring 2021 and Spring 2023 was a 3.30, which is well above the highest GPA threshold that participating institutions can select as Guarantee admissions criteria. This strong academic achievement has continued at the receiving institution, where Guarantee students have an average GPA of 3.55 at the end of their first semester.
  • Guarantee students are bringing diverse perspectives and identities to their transfer destinations. The median age among Guarantee students is 26. 43% of Guarantee students reported on in the data participating institutions submitted to NEBHE for the Spring 2021 to Spring 2023 terms were identified as Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC).
  • Early insights into baccalaureate completion among Guarantee students are promising. The central goal of the Guarantee remains to support students on their path to achieving a baccalaureate degree. For the 89 students who completed a bachelor’s degree program through the beginning of Spring 2023, the average time to degree was four semesters and the average GPA at graduation was a 3.66.

Sarah Kuczynski
Director of Transfer Initiatives
The New England Board of Higher Education

Read the full report here