Transfer Applicants Mainly White, High-Income

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The college transfer process may be falling short when it comes to serving underrepresented students, according to a new report from the Common App that shows transfer applicants are predominantly White students from high-income families.

The report from the Common App, an online platform that allows students to apply and transfer to institutions using one standardized form, provides a glimpse into underlying trends among transfer applicants from 2018–19 to 2021–22. Because transfer applicant data is not tracked federally, little information on this student group has previously been available to the public.

One of the report’s key findings reveals that over the past four years, just 6 percent of college transfer applicants who used the Common App resided in ZIP codes with the lowest median household income. Only one-fourth of applicants were underrepresented, and one-third were first-generation.

“These findings are somewhat concerning given that the college transfer process should reflect educational mobility for all students, especially for historically excluded groups,” the report states.

The data also indicates that public state universities and large private universities were the most popular schools for transfer students, and transfer applicants frequently applied to schools that have a first-year admission rate of less than 25 percent.