Binghamton University recently announced that it would be terminating its Binghamton Advantage Program (BAP) and replacing it with the “Broome to Binghamton (B2B) Guarantee Program” and more robust transfer programs. As we excitedly await more information about what these programs will look like moving forward, we are hopeful that developing programs will exceed some of the shortcomings of the BAP program while remaining true to the program’s goal of providing more students with access to BU.

BAP is a joint admissions program between SUNY Broome Community College and BU, founded in 2011, that allows incoming freshmen to attend classes at SUNY Broome for up to two years but to live on BU’s campus and eventually transfer fully to BU if they maintain a 2.7 GPA. Now, BAP students admitted in fall 2023, whom the University promises to continue to support in their transition to BU, will be the program’s last cohort.

According to a statement from BU, the B2B program will allow local students, who live within approximately 60 miles of the University’s campus, to “seamlessly transfer” into Harpur College after fulfilling “specific academic criteria at SUNY Broome.” The letter also promises that this new program will “absolutely ensure” more access to BU for local students and that BU is working to develop more pathways for transfer students.

The University’s website explains that part of the intent of the decision to terminate and replace BAP is to “facilitate current BAP students transferring to Binghamton earlier than initially expected,” but it doesn’t detail what the timeline will be for these new students. The “Binghamton Advantage Program” web page also brags that the University has “expanded support and programming for transfer students” over the past year, who make up more than 3,300 of our undergraduate student body, citing the TRANSFERmation Summit offered in August and January each year. We hope that the University will provide more clarity and details soon about the nature, requirements and time frames for the B2B and new transfer programs.

If BU fulfills its promises, the development of the B2B program and new transfer pathways could be a great way to gain more transfer students, especially local students, who make up a minority of BU’s student body. In 2019, only 7 percent of BU students were from Broome and Tioga counties. Transfer programs make well-resourced and more selective universities accessible to students who may not have had the resources or privilege to attend those schools during their first round of college applications. Additionally, transfer students often come from a more diverse college background, have had time to hone in on their academic and professional interests and likely have meaningful reasons for wanting to attend the university to which they transfer.

In addition to the benefits that come with accepting more transfer students to BU, we hope that some of the weaknesses of the BAP program can be eliminated in BU’s new transfer programs. In Pipe Dream’s recent News article about the BAP program termination, BAP students described having difficulty navigating the transition to BU’s classes, the loss of an academic advisor and a lack of key personnel and a general neglect of the program by both SUNY Broome and BU.

While BAP had some weaknesses, the program has long provided a more accessible pathway to BU, so it is crucial that the University fulfills its promise of continuing this extremely valuable partnership and making our University accessible to transfer students. In the comment section of Pipe Dream’s Instagram post announcing BAP’s termination, students voiced disappointment that the program would discontinue, saying “this program gave opportunities to those who are often overlooked” and that “these programs allow more people of color to enter Binghamton’s campus and have access to a strong education.” Students also voiced frustration that the Universities discontinued the program rather than addressing identified issues.

We hope that BU uses the termination of BAP as an opportunity to invest resources and time into developing robust, supportive transfer programs moving forward. Transfer students are an extremely valuable sector of our student body and should be supported throughout their University experience.