This chapter seeks to improve our understanding of the
determinants and cost of an institution’s transfer student
Determining the Costs of Transfer
Students at American Colleges and
John J. Cheslock
Students transferring between institutions of higher learning are an important part of the higher education system for a variety of reasons. First, they are important simply because of their large number. Recent work estimates using a sample of students who began postsecondary education in the fall of 1989 showed that approximately one in three students transfer to another institution within five years (McCormick and Carroll, 1997). More specifically, about one of four students (28 percent) who begin at a fouryear institution transfer, and 43 percent of students entering two-year institutions transfer.1
Besides its sheer size, the transfer route is also significant because it provides many potential benefits to students. By strategically transferring between institutions, students can lower their overall tuition costs, graduate from a more prestigious institution than allowed by their high school record, and resolve uncertainty about their success in higher education at a relatively low cost. The transfer route can also benefit institutions of higher learning because many transfer students possess characteristics that are advantageous to colleges and universities. As discussed in more detail later in this chapter, transfer students can benefit institutions with high attrition
Financial support for this work was provided by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, which is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Atlantic Philanthropies (USA), Inc. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.