Many college students are reacting to continuing problems in the economy by attempting to save money through community colleges. The idea is that students might attend community colleges for a few years and then transfer to traditional four-year schools to complete their degrees.

Students are transferring but it looks like a lot of them, at least in Washington State, aren’t transferring to regular schools. According to an article by Katherine Long in the Seattle Times:

Washington’s community-college students are transferring to four-year colleges and universities in record numbers, but increasingly they are turning to… for-profit schools to earn their bachelor’s degrees.

The trend highlights the growing difficulty of transferring to a state-supported four-year college or university, according to the state Higher Education Coordinating Board, which reported the results in a study released Monday. During a five-year period ending in summer 2010, the number of state students transferring from community and technical colleges to four-year colleges or universities to earn bachelor’s degrees grew 13 percent. But the number transferring to public four-year schools in Washington increased only by about 1 percent, while the number transferring to [proprietary] schools went up by almost 37 percent.

Last year, for instance, 2,074 students transferred to the University of Washington’s Seattle campus, the most common state school for transfers. The same year almost 3,000 community college students transferred to the for-profit University of Phoenix.

According to the article, students are increasingly moving toward for-profit schools because state budget cuts to higher education mean state universities don’t have enough room for all the students who want to study there.

Online, for-profit schools, in contract, have no size limits.

Tuition and fees at public colleges in Washington run between $6,000 and $8,700 a year. Phoenix, in contrast, costs about $12,000 a year.

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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