Lawmakers Reintroduce Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act

May 16, 2019
  • Advocacy
  • Community Colleges
  • Higher Education Act
  • Reverse Transfer
  • Access and Equity
  • Completion
  • Federal relations

On Wednesday, lawmakers reintroduced legislation to assist institutions in identifying students who have earned enough credits to be awarded an associate’s degree through reverse transfer. The bipartisan, bicameral Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act (S. 1490, H.R. 2768)—sponsored by U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and U.S. Representatives Joe Neguse (D-CO), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Elise Stefanik (R-NY)—would establish a new exemption under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (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.

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. 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.

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.

It's important to note that this legislation has broad support from the higher education community, which is why over 25 higher education systems from across the country as well as several higher education associations and State and Regional associations, also support this measure. We look forward to working with Members of Congress to increase the number of co-sponsors for the legislation in both chambers and to work diligently to ensure that this language is incorporated in any Higher Education Act measure that comes from this Congress.

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 FERPA standards. We believe the additional exception proposed in the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act legislation represents a responsible means of sharing student information between a student's 4-year and 2-year institution, while ensuring that the student's consent is obtained before awarding a degree or certificate. This legislation will lead to increased education attainment for millions of individuals.

- Mike Reilly