Site Logo

Hello, you are using an old browser that's unsafe and no longer supported. Please consider updating your browser to a newer version, or downloading a modern browser.

Skip to main content
Private Higher Education
July 7, 2023

In recent years four-year colleges and universities have sought to lower the barriers to entry for community college students. Most of these efforts have been focused on students transferring from community colleges to public four-year institutions. However, a jointly funded effort by AVDF and the Teagle Foundation is now supporting efforts by independent colleges and universities to make community college transfer easier and more attainable. Grants from AVDF and Teagle support institutions within a single state to create statewide transfer opportunities for students from any community college to any independent college. Projects to support statewide transfer pathways are now completed or underway in 13 states. The most recent state to join this effort is Iowa.

The project is administered by the Iowa Private Transfer Collaborative (IPTC), a consortium of 17 Iowa independent colleges and universities and two nonprofit organizations focused on Iowa higher education. The cooperative effort is the newest project supported through the jointly funded Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts initiative.

“We are passionate about bringing the lifelong benefits of a liberal arts education to students who historically have been excluded from higher education—including low-income students, first-generation students, students of color, and immigrant students—who now constitute the new majority of undergraduates and often depend on community college as their gateway to higher education,” said AVDF President and CEO Michael Murray.

Teagle Foundation President Andrew Delbanco highlighted how the grant will help improve the transfer experience for Iowa community college students:

“Teagle is committed to enhancing the educational environment for all students,” Delbanco said. “Through this grant, we are pleased to support curricular bridge-building in Iowa that will provide more options for community college students to complete their education at independent colleges well-suited to help them reach their goals while also bringing greater diversity of background and lived experience to the independent college sector.”

The multi-pronged effort will, among other things, bring together faculty from community colleges and four-year institutions to ensure the seamless transfer of academic credits and improved retention rates for transfer students from community colleges.

According to the 2022 Fall Enrollment Report from the Iowa Department of Education, fall enrollment across Iowa’s community colleges increased by 502 students from 2021. This increase represents a 0.6 percent rise in the total number of students enrolled last fall: 82,251 compared to 81,749 in 2021. In contrast, community college enrollment nationally decreased by 0.4 percent. Iowa’s increase in community college enrollment is the first since the fall of 2010 when enrollment peaked at 106,597 students.

Under the grant, private institutions will work to expand major transfer pathways to existing statewide transfer majors of biology, chemistry, English, history, psychology and sociology. Other transfer credit policies will also be implemented, including the expansion of general education articulation agreements and reverse transfer opportunities. A guaranteed admission agreement for students earning Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees at Iowa community colleges will also improve the transfer opportunities and experience. The grant will also fund the redevelopment of the website to help centralize student transfer information for private colleges and universities.

Members of the IPTC include Briar Cliff University, Buena Vista University, Central College, Clarke University, Coe College, Cornell College, Drake University, Grand View University, Loras College, Luther College, Morningside University, Mount Mercy University, Northwestern College, Saint Ambrose University, Simpson College, University of Dubuque, and Wartburg College. The two nonprofit organizations facilitating the distribution of the grant money are the Iowa Higher Education Loan Authority and the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities.

Back to all Stories