Community college transfer scholarships are only a small step

Beginning next year, the University of Connecticut has guaranteed qualified Connecticut community college transfer student’s scholarships towards the completion of a bachelor’s degree. These scholarships will total $8,000 over the course of four semesters and will be awarded to students who transfer as juniors and who have maintained a grade point average of at least 3.0, along with the recommendations of both an academic advisor and president of their respective community college.

In a written statement made by UConn president Susan Herbst, she said, “This scholarship will help ease the financial burden on transfer students while rewarding and reinforcing their successful academic work in Connecticut’s community colleges. It also broadens UConn’s ability to reach more of the state’s highly talented students, strengthens our bonds with our community college partners and supports our work to keep students here after graduation to contribute to Connecticut’s economy.”

On one hand, this is a nice incentive for those seeking to complete a bachelor’s degree and who may already be considering doing so at UConn. This scholarship could be combined with other forms of financial aid and could go toward textbooks, rent or other costs associated with college, making the cost of transferring to UConn a bit more palatable. These scholarships could also have long-term economic benefits for the state of Connecticut as graduates could eventually join the state’s workforce with jobs enabled by their bachelor’s degrees. 

On the other hand, $4,000 per year does not significantly lessen the burden of tuition at the university. The cost of tuition and room and board for undergraduates who are in state total nearly $25,500. Thus, the provision of such scholarships may not be enough to truly convince community college students to transfer.

Furthermore, the financial impact of these scholarships will only diminish with the proposed tuition hikes planned over the next four years, which would see in-state tuition increase by about 31 percent. Unless the university plans to scale these scholarship awards to counter the rising cost of education, such scholarships will become less of an incentive for community college students. 

The university’s decision to provide scholarships to incoming community college transfers should be lauded, however it should not be seen as a significant financial equalizer that will make a bachelor’s degree considerably more affordable. Thus, UConn’s scholarship program for community college graduates should be seen as a small financial reward that only serves to sweeten the deal for those who are already considering transferring to the university.