Transfer Pathway Reform

For decades, transferring from California Community Colleges has challenged students, often requiring them to aim for multiple moving targets.


coursework requirements that differ from campus to campus, and sometimes change from year to year

community college students frequently take courses to prepare for transfer to multiple campuses, or retake courses after transferring

students do not always earn an associate degree at the time of transfer

Beyond the impacts on individual students, the challenging transfer process leads to profound impacts on the systems too. Transfer students are graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the CSU with, on average, 40 units they don’t need-20 at the community college and 20 at the CSU. This means that both students and the state are spending more time and money on the degrees earned.

By reducing the amount of excess units students earn by 10 in each system…

the amount in millions the state would maximize their investment by this amount annually
additional students would be able to get the classes they need in the community colleges
additional students would be able to enroll in the California State University system

Senate Bill 1440 (Padilla), signed by Governor Schwarzenegger in 2010*, sought to change all of that.

Transfer Pathway Reform_pathway

aligns transfer requirements with those for an associate degree, creating Associate Degrees for Transfer, in a major or area of emphasis

60 community college units + 60 California State University units pathway

guarantees admission into the CSU system with junior standing

*AB 2302 (Fong) was also passed in 2010, which requested that a pathway similar to SB 1440 to be developed for students transferring into the University of California system.


Since the passage of SB 1440 in 2010, The Campaign for College Opportunity and other entities have monitored implementation and provided reports on progress. The bottom line: much has been done, but implementation varies widely throughout the state at both community college and CSU campuses. In 2013, Senator Alex Padilla authored clean-up legislation, SB 440, to ensure that transfer reform is implemented according to the intent of the original legislation. It was signed by Governor Brown in October 2013


2017 Champions of Higher Education for Excellence in Transfer Awardees

“Demonstrated Excellence” reports provide examples of what is working now to improve student success. Below you’ll find individual profiles of the featured effective practices from across the state that are working to implement the Associate Degree for Transfer Program.

Moorpark College

CSU Long Beach

CSU Fullerton

Senate Bill 1440 (Padilla, 2010) The Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act

This legislation creates a seamless transfer pathway for all California community college students regardless of which college they attend. Community college students who successfully complete 60 units of transferable coursework will be awarded an associate degree and receive guaranteed admission with junior standing at the CSU. View updates on the implementation of this legislation here.Transfer Reform Fact Sheet

SB 1440 Policy Endorsers

Assembly Bill 2302 (Fong, 2010) Statewide Transfer Pathway Act

The legislation is designed to enhance the transfer pathway created in SB 1440. Specifically, this bill will request the University of California to participate in SB 1440’s historic transfer reform movement by guaranteeing UC system admission with junior status to a community college student with an associate degree for transfer. In addition, it will ensure that such transfer reform is efficient, student-centered, and does not disadvantage students who are currently enrolled in a community college.

AB 2302 Policy Endorsers

Senate Bill 440 (Padilla, 2013) The Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act

Fact Sheet

Press Release from the Office of Senator Alex Padilla on the passage of SB 440 

Assembly Bill 1016 (Santiago, 2015)  Public Postsecondary Education: Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act
This bill requires reporting from the California Community Colleges and California State University related to the Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act.

The Transfer Maze: The High Cost to Students and the State of California

California cannot produce the educated population our workforce and high-tech industries demand without significantly increasing the number of community college
students transferring to universities.

This report highlights the critical role transfer plays in producing college graduates and providing economic opportunity, and the unnecessary barriers that impede transfer for far too many Californians, resulting in high costs to students and the state. Although the majority of California community college students enroll wanting to transfer, students transferred at an average rate of only 4% after two years of enrollment, 25% after four years of enrollment, and 38% after six years of enrollment. For the state, these low transfer rates yield high costs associated with a minimum number of seats available to new students and lost tax revenue from people with delayed entry into the workforce or whose economic prospects are reduced as a result of an unfinished degree. For the student starting at a community college, she or he may pay $36,000-$38,000 more to obtain a bachelor’s degree than would a student enrolling directly at a four-year college.

Executive Summary

Full Report

Keeping the Promise: Going the Distance on Transfer Reform

In 2016, the Campaign released Keeping the Promise: Going the Distance on Transfer Reform, this report is a comprehensive, independent examination of the community college to CSU transfer pathway since state lawmakers enacted Senate Bill 1440, the Student Transfer Achievement Reform (STAR) Act, in 2010 to significantly increase the number of students whotransfer.  This report found significant improvements in the creation of a seamless transfer pathway between California Community Colleges and the California State Universities (CSU) but more progress is needed to ensure that every student who wants to transfer is directed to the pathway and reaches their goal of a Bachelor’s degree.

Executive Summary

Full Report

Meeting Compliance, but Missing the Mark

In 2012, the Campaign released Meeting Compliance, but Missing the Mark, a report that examined how well California Community Colleges and California State Universites were progressing in terms SB 1440 implementation. The report found that, while there have been some major highlights in implementation of the law, many colleges and CSU campuses through the state are lagging. The report also highlights reasons for progress or a lack thereof, and includes recommendations to fulfill the original intent of legislation. A regularly-updated data addendum below identifies the level of campus compliance by system.

Executive Summary

Full Report

Webinar reviewing key findings & recommendations