Lawmakers Reintroduce the Bipartisan, Bicameral Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act

July 22, 2021
  • AACRAO Leadership and Governance
  • AACRAO Press Releases
  • Reverse Transfer
  • Transfer and Articulation

Contact: AACRAO Communications


The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2021 was reintroduced on July 19


Lawmakers from both parties and chambers of Congress on Monday reintroduced legislation 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.

U.S. Senators Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Mike Braun (R-IN), along with Sens. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), John Curtis (R-UT), and Joaquin Castro (D-TX) reintroduced the bipartisan Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2021, 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 sole purpose of applying such coursework and credits toward completion of a recognized postsecondary credential.

“AACRAO believes this legislation is an important step that will enable institutions to increase educational attainment, and ultimately salaries, for millions of individuals,” stated AACRAO’s Interim Executive Director Melanie Gottlieb. “The additional FERPA exception proposed represents a responsible means of sharing student information between a student's 4-year and 2-year institutions in a way that both protects student privacy and supports the completion agenda.”

The National Need to Increase Education Attainment

The American Action Forum estimates that at the current production rate in higher education, our economy will face a shortage of 8.6 million workers with the necessary education and training by 2029. 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.

Reverse transfer 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. Simply stated, reverse transfer is the transfer of credits from a four-year institution back to a two-year institution from which the student transferred for the purpose of facilitating the awarding of a degree or certificate.

The National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) has identified over 4 million individuals who have completed enough credit hours at a four-year institution to be eligible for an associate’s degree, but instead withdrew without 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. 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.

The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2021 has broad support from the higher education community, including the American Association of Community Colleges, the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, the Institute for Higher Education Policy, and Student Veterans of America, as well as over 25 higher education systems from across the country and numerous State and Regional ACRAOs.


AACRAO is a non-profit, voluntary, professional association of more than 11,000 higher education professionals representing approximately 2,600 institutions in more than 40 countries. Its commitment to the professional development of its members includes best practice guidance on admissions strategies to meet institutional diversity objectives, delivery of academic programs in innovative ways to meet the needs of a changing student body, and exemplary approaches to student retention and completion.