Old Main with Des Moines skyline in background

Drake University, along with 16 other Iowa colleges and universities, received a three-year grant from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and the Teagle Foundation

Transferring from a community college to a private college or university in Iowa will become more transparent, cost-effective, and coordinated thanks to a three-year grant awarded by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations and Teagle Foundation to the Iowa Private Transfer Collaborative (IPTC), a consortium of 17 Iowa nonprofit colleges and universities and two nonprofit organizations focused on Iowa higher education. The $350,000 grant is a part of the foundations’ shared Transfer Pathways to the Liberal Arts initiative.

“We are passionate about bringing the lifelong benefits of a liberal arts education to students who historically have been excluded from higher education—including low-income students, first-generation students, students of color, and immigrant students—who now constitute the new majority of undergraduates and often depend on community college as their gateway to higher education,” said Michael Murray, president and CEO of the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

Andrew Delbanco, president of the Teagle Foundation, highlighted how the grant will help improve the transfer experience for Iowa community college students.

“Teagle is committed to enhancing the educational environment for all students,” said Mr. Delbanco. “Through this grant, we are pleased to support curricular bridge-building in Iowa that will provide more options for community college students to complete their education at independent colleges well-suited to help them reach their goals, while also bringing greater diversity of background and lived experience to the independent college sector.”

The grant will fund work across the state aimed at bringing together faculty from community colleges and four-year institutions to ensure the seamless transfer of academic credits and placing a greater emphasis on the retention rate for transfer students from community colleges to four-year institutions.

According to the 2022 Fall Enrollment Report from the Iowa Department of Education, fall enrollment across Iowa’s community colleges increased by 502 students from 2021. This increase represents a 0.6 percent rise in the total number of students enrolled last fall: 82,251 compared to 81,749 in 2021. In contrast, community college enrollment nationally decreased by 0.4 percent. Iowa’s increase in community college enrollment is the first since fall 2010 when enrollment peaked at 106,597 students.

“As the higher education landscape continues to shift, this grant will help break down barriers and make the continuation of an individual’s education journey more accessible, cost-effective, and organized,” said Lauren McCarthy, Drake University transfer student transition advisor.  “Transferring can be a complex and daunting process to undertake, so any way that we can make that process easier for Iowa students is a great thing.”

Under the grant, private institutions will work to expand their program offerings to include the existing statewide transfer majors of biology, chemistry, English, history, psychology, and sociology. Other transfer credit policies will also be implemented, including the expansion of general education articulation agreements and reverse transfer opportunities. A guaranteed admission agreement for students earning Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees at Iowa community colleges is a significant initiative in the grant.

The grant will also fund the redevelopment of the iowaprivatecolleges.org website to help centralize student transfer information for private colleges and universities. A part-time project director will be hired through the grant to coordinate grant activities. The IPTC joins many other states in receiving an implementation grant to open transfer pathways to liberal arts degrees for community college students.

Members of the IPTC include Briar Cliff University, Buena Vista University, Central College, Clarke University, Coe College, Cornell College, Drake University, Grand View University, Loras College, Luther College, Morningside University, Mount Mercy University, Northwestern College, Saint Ambrose University, Simpson College, University of Dubuque, and Wartburg College. The two nonprofit organizations facilitating distribution of the grant money are the Iowa Higher Education Loan Authority and the Iowa Association of Independent Colleges & Universities