Reverse Transfer Gains National Attention as an Effective Tool to Increase Education Attainment

June 15, 2018
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June 15, 2018
Contact: William Gil
Director, Government Relations, AACRAO

Reverse Transfer Gains National Attention as an Effective Tool to Increase Education Attainment

Washington, DC - Lawmakers from both parties and chambers of Congress recently introduced legislation (H.R. 3774, S. 2986 and S. 3066) to assist institutions in identifying students who have earned enough credits to be awarded an associate’s degree through reverse transfer. The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO) worked closely with Congressional offices to ensure the legislative language increases the flexibility to complete an assessment of student records while still adhering to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) standards.

"AACRAO believes the additional FERPA exception proposed in the reverse transfer legislation represents a responsible means of sharing student information between a student's 4-year and 2-year institution while insuring that the student's consent is obtained before awarding a degree or certificate ," stated AACRAO's Executive Director, Michael Reilly .

The National Need to Increase Education Attainment

As the nation works toward increasing higher education attainment, the higher education community is looking for innovative solutions to increase degree completion rates for students enrolled in higher education. Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce estimates that at the current production rate in higher education, the economy will face a shortage of 5 million workers with the necessary education and training by 2020

The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) has identified more than 4 million individuals who have completed more than 60 credit hours, but were not awarded a degree or certificate * . Nearly 50 percent of four-year college graduates between 2005 and 2015 attended a two-year college. However, studies show 78 percent of students who transfer from a two-year to a four-year institution do so without a degree.

Reverse transfer, the transfer of credits from a four-year institution to a two-year institution from which a student transferred for the purpose of facilitating the awarding of a degree or certificate, has been gaining traction as institutions and states seek new ways to recognize credits that students have earned that did not result in the awarding of a degree or certificate. Currently, there are no processes or guidelines for sharing student credit information from four-year to two-year year institutions for the possible award of degrees or certificates from a two-year institution.

Legislation to Advance Reverse Transfer Programs 

Last fall,
U.S. Representative Luke Messer (R-IN) alongside Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO), Drew Ferguson (R-GA), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), and Thomas Garrett, Jr. (R-VA), introduced the bipartisan Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2017, H.R. 3774 , which would establish a new exemption under FERPA to permit the disclosure of students' postsecondary coursework and credit information to an institution the student was previously enrolled at for the purpose of applying such coursework and credits toward completion of a recognized postsecondary credential. The House Education and the Workforce Committee in December included the measure by unanimous consent as an amendment to its version of the Higher Education Act reauthorization bill, the Promoting Real Opportunity, Success, and Prosperity through Education Reform (PROSPER) Act, H.R. 4508.

This week, U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA, Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) introduced an identical bipartisan companion bill , the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act, S. 3066.  

“This legislation has broad support from the higher education community, which is why over 20 higher education systems from across the country as well as several higher education associations and State and Regional associations, support this additional flexibility,” stated Reilly.  “It just makes sense.”
Additionally, a trio of Democratic senators last week introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act (S. 2986), led by Sens. Bob Casey (D-PA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Tim Kaine (D-VA), which would competitively award grants to states to creating incentives for institutions of higher education to establish reverse transfer programs. The bill includes the language, championed by AACRAO, from the bi-partisan Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act that would create a new FERPA exemption to allow the sharing of student information between institutions to facilitate increased college completion rates. 

The incorporation of reverse transfer as a practice within the higher education community would provide a much needed flexibility to increase college education attainment levels and prove to be beneficial to meeting future workforce needs.