Associate of arts transfer pathways in Florida: Enrollment trends and student characteristics, and state policy implications

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Understanding students' journeys and successes as they transfer from two-year to four-year institutions is crucial to shaping effective educational policies and improving higher education outcomes. Associate of Arts Transfer Pathways in Florida, a research brief produced by Helios Education Foundation and the Center for Postsecondary Success at Florida State University, delves into the complexities of Associate of Arts (AA) transfer pathways within the Florida College System (FCS). It highlights key postsecondary trends, explores student pathways to degree completion and examines the impact of college behaviors on transfer success. 

Postsecondary trends at Florida’s two-year state colleges 

  • Enrollment decline: From 2010 to 2019, enrollment in FCS institutions declined from 38% to 30% as more high school graduates opt to enter the workforce. 
  • Stable transfer rates: Despite declining FCS enrollment, the overall transfer rates to four-year institutions have remained stable at around 65%, indicating that students who do enroll in FCS institutions are more frequently moving on to earn a bachelor's degree. 
  • Pathways to Florida student transfer success: Students enrolled in an AA program and who completed their AA degree within six terms were 77% more likely to transfer into a four-year institution.  
  • Students who completed accelerated coursework, such as dual enrollment and Advance Placement courses, in high school showed a 73% transfer rate compared to 63% for those who did not take this coursework.  
  • Students who passed year one introductory or gateway math and English were 67% and 66% more likely to transfer, respectively.  

Effective strategies for transfer success in Florida 

The research brief recommends the following steps to elevate the success of transfer students: 

  • Expand access to accelerated coursework in high school to better prepare students for college academic demands. 
  • Incentivize academic sequences that contribute to continuous enrollment. 
  1. Download the transfer pathways research brief

About the research 

Facilitating student transfers from two-year to four-year postsecondary institutions is a fundamental strategy by the state of Florida to increase college-going and postsecondary credential attainment among high school graduates. But, as community college enrollments continue to decline nationwide and in the Florida College System, it is essential to understand transfer trends in Florida, and the pathways students take to inform efforts designed to increase enrollment, transfer, and, ultimately, college completion. “Associate of Arts Transfer Pathways in Florida” is intended to enhance understanding of the current trends in associate of arts (AA) pathways with the goal of informing policies that support student success in Florida.