College Game Plan

Six community colleges that will fast-track you to a bachelor's degree

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Taking the community college route to a four-year university can save you thousands of dollars — and these six schools can boost your odds of a successful transfer.

For the 2016-2017 school year, average tuition and fees at a community college were $3,520, according to The College Board. In comparison, students who qualified for in-state tuition at a four-year school were paying $9,650.

And those going to a four-year private school shelled out even more for tuition: $33,480.

Even with the lower costs, experts say making the transition from a community college to a bachelor's degree program is no easy feat. Students grapple with family and work obligations, and often additional prerequisite courses.

In fact, only 16 percent of students who began at a two-year school in 2010 were able to complete their education at a four-year institution by 2016, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

These six two-year public schools, however, have gained recognition in The Transfer Playbook, a paper that details best practices for successful transfer programs at a handful of community colleges.

"These schools have high mobility rates," said Josh Wyner, vice president at the Aspen Institute and co-author of The Transfer Playbook. "Many students made their way from the community college to a four-year school and had high levels of bachelor's degree attainment."

Here are the standout schools, according to The Transfer Playbook.

Denver, Colorado
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Front Range Community College

This two-year school has teamed up with Colorado State University to secure a $1.2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to grant transfer students junior status in biochemistry, biomedical sciences or psychology.

FRCC has locations throughout Colorado, with campuses in Longmont, Westminster, Fort Collins and Brighton.

The attitude at this college has been that "we're not going to offer courses that don't transfer," according to The Transfer Playbook.

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Manchester Community College

This school in Manchester, Connecticut, partnered with the Association of American Colleges and Universities to prepare students for a four-year school.

As part of the program, the college has pathway and advising services for these students to follow as they migrate to a four-year school.

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Broward College

This community college, whose main campus is in Davie, Florida, has a partnership with Florida Atlantic University since 2007. On average, 45 percent of Broward College students transfer to FAU each year, The Transfer Playbook found.

In addition, Florida International University offers a dual-admission program for students who earn an associate's degree at Broward College within 2½ years.

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Louisiana State University Eunice

LSU Eunice and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (pictured above) — a common transfer destination — are an hour apart, which can hamper the progress of students who'd like to migrate to a four-year school but need to manage work and families.

The schools solved this problem by establishing a program that will allow students to complete a bachelor's degree in education on the community college's campus.

LSU Eunice also offers advising services for undecided students to help them narrow down what they want so they can concentrate on working toward their degree and making a transfer.

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Holyoke Community College 

Deans at this school, based in Holyoke, Massachusetts, regularly meet with the school's transfer coordinator to design academic programs that prepare students for migration to a four-year school.

HCC and University of Massachusetts Amherst received grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities to support students' transfer to Amherst in pursuit of a four-year degree.

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Everett Community College 

About 10 years ago, this school, located in Everett, Washington, kicked off a program to improve its transfer results: From 2007 to 20012, the transfer rate went up by 47 percent, according to the Playbook. Further, from 2007 to 2010, the four-year bachelor's degree graduation rate climbed by 57 percent.

The two-year college works closely with Western Washington University, a four-year school, to ensure that community college students narrow down their major and identify their transfer destination so that they're ready to pursue a bachelor's degree program.

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