Part of the lure of community colleges for middle class parents is that such colleges offer the potential for students to spend about two years of their collegiate education earning credits on the cheap. That’s also part of the benefit of the schools for poor students. Community college can serve as an entry point to college; after two years at the local community college, people can transfer to a four-year institution and come out with a bachelor’s degree.

Well one can transfer, but it’s pretty difficult.

According to a to new article by Joanne Jacobs at the Hechinger Report:

It’s too tough to transfer credits when students move from community college to four-year institutions, concluded panelists at a Center for American Progress discussion, reports Inside Higher Ed. The average transfer students earns 140 credits but is able to use only 120….

While 14 states set a “general education common core curriculum” that is easily transferable from one institution to another, only seven states have a “common course numbering system.” Twenty-two states have “statewide program major articulations” that allow seamless transfers, 20 states have “block credit transfer” and 30 states have “transfer associate degrees,” with guaranteed acceptance as a junior at a four-year institution.

Only 10 percent of community college students actually go on to ever earn a bachelor’s degree.

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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