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Executive Summary
The Importance of 2/4 Transfer
The Different Dimensions of Transfer
The Accountability Problem and Transfer “Rates”
Research on State Policy and Transfer
Six-State Focus
    New Mexico
    New York
    North Carolina
Lessons Learned about State Transfer Policy
Conclusions and Recommendations
State Resources
About the Author
The Institute for Higher Education Policy
The National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education

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New Mexico is a poor state and one of the lowest-performing on the measures for high school completion, retention, and graduation used in Measuring Up 2000, although the state scores relatively well on both college participation and affordability. About 88,000 undergraduate students attend public colleges, with 41% of those enrolled at the 6 four- year institutions and 59% at the 19 community colleges. The 16 accredited private institutions enroll approximately 6,000 undergraduate students (National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, 2000). Annual tuition and fees average $668 a year at the community colleges, $2,073 at the four-year institutions. The state spends slightly over $34 million annually for student aid, the majority ($18 million) for merit-based, rather than need-based, aid.


New Mexico is an institutionally governed state with a statewide coordinating board and 15 institutional governing boards for the public two- and four-year colleges. Most of New Mexico’s earliest community colleges were established as “branch” or feeder schools to four-year institutions, and they were expected to take a 2+2 approach to baccalaureate transfer. Over the years, additional types of two-year institutions have evolved— constitutional, independent, branch, and vocational/technical—all of which view transfer as part of their mission. The state coordinating board, the Commission on Higher Education, is responsible for policy development, data collection, and analysis. Data reporting is performed both by the institutions, through university and community college collaboratives, and by the coordinating board. Budgets are based on a funding formula that is reviewed and approved by the coordinating board.

Enrollment Planning

The state’s population is expected to grow very slowly in the next 10 years, and unless high school graduation rates improve, college demand could decline. The state’s three urban centers are growing, but the rest of the state faces declining enrollments and excess capacity for higher education. Nonetheless, New Mexico will likely face a large structural budget deficit for higher education in the next 10 years. Over 30% of school-age children live in poverty. New Mexico has a sizable Latino population and a large population of Native Americans.

Academic Policies Affecting Transfer

State policy has long emphasized the transfer function for some of the community colleges, and the transfer function has been a statewide priority since the mid-1980s. Articulation and transfer legislation enacted in 1995 directed the Commission on Higher Education to collaborate with the institutions to develop a common transfer core curriculum of 35 units. This curriculum, mandated for all public institutions, has now been in place for almost seven years. Receiving institutions are required to accept additional courses as meeting core requirements, based on seven 64-semester-hour transfer modules that cover broad discipline areas and that are developed and maintained by statewide faculty groups.

New Mexico has two types of high school graduation standards—graduation standards and diploma standards—neither of which is aligned with college admissions standards. Two of the four-year regional institutions and all the public community colleges maintain open admission. The state does not have an explicit policy on college remediation, assessment, or placement, but does regulate the classes that may be offered for college credit and state support.

Data Collection and Accountability

New Mexico has a student-based tracking system, but a relatively weak statewide capacity for accountability reporting. A recent report by the Commission on Higher Education shows roughly half of New Mexico’s bachelor’s degrees were awarded to transfer students. Of the transfer students, fewer than half had transferred from another New Mexico public institution; whether from four-year or two-year institutions is not reported. Over half of the bachelor’s degrees awarded to transfer students were awarded to students who had transferred from out-of-state colleges. Almost 87% of credits presented are accepted for transfer. Of the units denied, most were from vocational or remedial courses outside the transfer curriculum.


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