With the economy as it is many people are touting the benefits of community college for middle-class high school students. Earn some cheap credits and then transfer to the college of your dreams.

Turns out it doesn’t really work out that well. According to an article by Dan McFeely in the Indianapolis Star:

The community college promise is simple: Take two years at Ivy Tech, where classes are cheaper, then transfer to the university of your choice to finish a four-year degree.

The reality is not so simple: Class credits don’t always transfer because some public universities are not accepting them. The reasons why are many, but the state’s push in 2005 to turn Ivy Tech into a two-year feeder college — and the overwhelming response from students taking advantage of that goal — has exposed a number of systemic failings.

Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana is one of America’s largest and most influential community colleges. The state of Indiana deliberately works to make the school a promising start to a college career for everyone. The trouble is that while Ivy Tech has a lot of college credit agreements with various Indiana colleges (500 agreements with 65 colleges), there are no official standards for courses.

There are “agreements” but they’re really more like promises; they’re not binding. Even when students finish Ivy Tech and successfully transfer to a traditional college they often have to retake classes, which are more expensive in four-year schools.

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Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer