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Syracuse University pilots 'Transfer Transition Team,' innovating model for community college transfers

May 24, 2011

Sara Miller
(315) 443-9038

With a grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, Syracuse University is piloting a revolutionary new practice for transfer enrollment—combining academic advising with predictive financial aid modeling for community college students.  

This proposed new model is possible through the work of a Transfer Transition Team funded through a $400,000 grant from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. Composed of one transfer financial aid expert and one transfer admissions specialist, the team is combining academic advising with individual-specific predictive financial aid packaging for low-income, high-achieving community college transfer students. The team will travel to community colleges across New York state and within targeted geographic regions to proactively recruit and work on site with students to facilitate their successful transfer to and graduation from SU. 

In partnership with Onondaga Community College (OCC), SU is the nation’s first private institution to move financial aid into the recruiting cycle. Traditionally, a student is only provided a financial aid package after he/she has accepted an offer of admission. 

Predictive financial aid is a model whereby community college students can receive financial aid packages from a four-year college or university based on their current eligibility. Recently, SU’s Office of Enrollment Management has worked to create more seamless transfer opportunities by partnering with community colleges to offer predictive financial aid packages to prospective students. Students who demonstrate financial need equal to or greater than University costs receive an estimated aid package intended to cover tuition, mandatory fees, housing, meals, supplies and books. The receipt of the predictive financial package enables students early on to perceive a four-year degree as a attainable option, and aids families in planning for college.

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation grant and pilot program mean that SU can expose much greater numbers of potential students to the range of educational opportunities available at SU. The program also provides transfer students with advising experts for the next important steps on their academic, social, financial and career navigation. Community college students—especially academically qualified students in the moderate-income and low-income, Pell-eligible categories—can now develop an educational and financial pathway toward an SU education. 

“Our Transfer Transition Team is breaking down a major barrier to earning a bachelor’s degree,” says SU Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor. “Misperceptions about affordability deter many students at two-year colleges from planning to continue their education. We also know that early and active engagement with high-achieving, lower-income students about their financial options can overcome that barrier. We’re thrilled to partner with the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, OCC and other two-year colleges across the state and the nation to pioneer this process and, most importantly, to make a real difference in the lives of promising students.” 

“The Transfer Transition Team will work to address the informational, cultural and economic barriers that persist for community college transfer students—meeting students where they are, and assisting in their successful transfer to and graduation from SU,” says Donald A. Saleh, vice president of enrollment management and co-principal investigator of the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation grant, with Eileen Strempel, assistant vice president for academic advancement in Enrollment Management. “As we continue to develop the programs and partnerships that will reach more high-achieving students and enable them to complete a SU degree, we also hope to continue to be a national model for transfer enrollment.” 

An additional objective of the pilot program is to provide connections for transfer students with SU’s Office of First Year and Transfer Students and other student support programs, building a sustainable pathway for transfer students to remain engaged and supported throughout their college career. 

Hiring is currently in process for two new Transition Team positions, with a projected start date of July 1. 

In addition to several articulation agreements with community colleges across the country, SU in November 2010 pioneered “2+2″ agreements with OCC and Georgia Perimeter College (GPC) in Atlanta. The “2+2″ programs are another path for high-achieving students who can complete their first two years of study at OCC or GPC, and then easily transfer into one of 33 degree programs at SU’s colleges and schools, provided they demonstrate continued good citizenship and meet the course and GPA requirements. Students can reduce their overall cost to attend college by paying OCC’s or GPC’s lower tuition for the first two years before transferring to SU. 

The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation is a private, independent foundation established by Jack Kent Cooke to help exceptionally promising students reach their full potential through education. Launched in 2000, the foundation focuses in particular on students with financial need. The foundation’s scholarship and direct service programs support the education of approximately 650 remarkable students each year, while its grant making allows thousands more to engage in challenging educational experiences.

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