This week, lawmakers from both parties and chambers of Congress reintroduced the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act to assist institutions in identifying students who have earned enough credits to be awarded an associate's degree through reverse transfer.
The bipartisan, bicameral bill—sponsored by 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)—would establish a new exemption under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to allow the sharing of student information between institutions to facilitate increased college completion rates. More specifically, the exception would 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 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 exemption proposed in the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act represents a responsible means of sharing student information between a student's four-year and two-year institution, while ensuring that the student's consent is obtained before awarding a degree or certificate.
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. And addressing that shortage will require innovative solutions to increase degree 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.
The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act stands to possibly benefit 4 million students retroactively, as well as millions of students moving forward, and enjoys broad support from the higher education community.
The proposed legislation was first introduced in 2017. Since that time, reverse transfer legislation has been introduced, or been part of, numerous legislative proposals, including both Republican and Democrat-led bills to reauthorize the Higher Education Act. This support from lawmakers and the higher education community highlights the tremendous potential this additional flexibility will provide two and four-year institutions to work even more collaboratively and proactively to identify those individuals that are eligible for an associate's degree.
- Melanie Gottlieb, Interim Executive Director