A photo of new Sac State students taking a tour during orientation.(Sacramento State/Jessica Vernone)

A new initiative at Sacramento State to help transfer students graduate on time has just gotten a major boost.

More than $500,000 in grant money will support the “Through in Two: Leveraging the Associate Degree for Transfer” program. It is a partnership among Sacramento State, the Los Rios Community College District, the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, and the College Futures Foundation that aims to increase the number of students who are able to graduate within two years of transferring to Sac State.

A $343,000 grant from the College Futures Foundation will support the program’s outreach and mentoring efforts, while a $200,000 grant from the Sacramento Region Community Foundation, thanks to a contribution from the Frank H. Buck Scholarship Fund, will provide $500 scholarships to 400 transfer students. The new donations are in addition to a $346,000 grant last year from the College Futures Foundation that partially supported the program.

Although they come to Sacramento State having already experienced college life, transfer students must still navigate the transition from a community college to a four-year campus, says Ed Mills, vice president for Student Affairs.

“We do need to help those students transfer more efficiently and know what to expect when they get on campus, and then we need to support them while they’re here,” Mills says. “We provide a lot of support for our first- and second-year students, and it’s important for us to provide similar support for our transfer students. This new partnership is one way for us to accomplish that goal.”

Along with the “Finish in Four” program for first-year students, Sacramento State has implemented the “Through in Two” program for transfer students as part of the CSU’s Graduation Initiative, which aims to increase the number of students who are able to graduate on time. Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADT) allows California community college students to earn their associate degree while satisfying lower-division general education requirements, lower-division major requirements, and CSU minimum admission requirements for transfer at the same time.

The new initiative will complement current outreach efforts by sending transfer ambassadors to local community colleges, expanding the University’s reach. The ambassadors will help educate students about the benefits of obtaining an ADT and provide other peer-coaching services to help them with their transition to Sacramento State.

Completing an ADT has a big impact on a student’s ability to graduate within two years of transfer. Forty-seven percent of ADT students who transferred to Sacramento State in fall 2015 graduated within two years, compared to 32 percent of non-ADT students. That number rises to more than 50 percent for ADT students who transferred and enrolled in the same academic major as they were enrolled in during community college.

Graduating on time – two years for transfer students and four years for first-year students – has major benefits. Students who finish college in four years instead of six have up to $11,000 less debt and, because they enter the workforce sooner, earn an average of $100,000 more over the course of their careers.

“The benefits to timely graduation can last an entire lifetime,” says Jim Dragna, executive director of University Initiatives and Student Success. “For transfer students, coming to Sacramento State or any other California State University campus with an Associate Degree for Transfer makes it much more likely they will graduate within two years.

“We’re committed to doing all we can as a University to support our transfer students and help them navigate that path successfully.”

Sacramento State’s overall graduation efforts have shown remarkable progress. From 2016 to 2017, the University saw a five-point increase in the two-year transfer rate three-point increase in the four-year graduation rate for first-year students.

See the ADT page on Sac State’s website for more information about Associate Degree for Transfer at Sacramento State. – Jonathan Morales

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