Transfer Students Get Less Grants from Colleges

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Mark Kantrowitz

By Mark Kantrowitz

May 3, 2020

Students who transfer tend to get thousands of dollars less in institutional grant aid from their colleges.  The decrease in institutional grants is much greater about private non-profit colleges than public colleges. Students who have better grades tend to get less institutional grant money.

Among students in Bachelor’s degree programs, students who previously attended a community college get $4,055 less in total grant aid, a 34% decrease, and $4,701 less in institutional grant aid, a 42% decrease. Transfer students are also 12.3% less likely to receive institutional aid, based on data from the 2015-2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:16).

There is a similar result based on the number of colleges attended. Among students in Bachelor’s degree programs, students who attended two or more colleges got $984 less in total grants and $1,644 less in institutional grants than students who attended just one college, their current college.

The amount of institutional grants decreases with the number of colleges attended by the student. For example, the average institutional grant is $1,549 less for students who attended two colleges and $3,588 less for students who attended three colleges.

The decrease in institutional grants for students who attended a community college is much greater among private colleges than public colleges. The decrease in average grants at public colleges is $1,401, a 26% decrease, compared with a decrease of $6,871 at private non-profit colleges, a 38% decrease. The smallest decrease in institutional grants was $202 at private for-profit colleges, a 7% decrease.

Getting good grades, whether in high school or college, does not yield more institutional grant aid for transfer students who previously attended a community college. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, with students who have a 3.5 GPA in college getting $5,879 less institutional grant aid, compared with $4,771 less for students with a 3.0 to 3.49 GPA, $3,546 less for students with a 2.5 to 2.99 GPA and $2,740 less for students with less than a 2.5 GPA.

The decrease in average institutional grants does not vary by much according to year in school, just a few hundred dollars.

The 2017 follow-up to the 2011-2012 Beginning Postsecondary Students longitudinal student (BPS:12/17) has similar results. The average institutional grant was $2,760 lower among students who attempted to transfer credits to their current institution, as compared with students who never transferred, a 31% decrease.

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