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'Reverse Transfer' Idea Gets Fresh Congressional Push

diploma and graduation cap on a table

The idea of the "reverse transfer" isn't new. It's been bandied about at least since 2014, when the National Student Clearinghouse undertook a project to find a way to award associate degrees to individuals who had transferred to a four-year college from a community college without first earning an associate degree. Even if they didn't follow through on their bachelor degree intentions, these "potential completers," so the argument went, may have earned the equivalent of a two-year degree, which they should be able to receive retroactively. The Clearinghouse would act as a transfer agent to handle the details. During that same year, legislation was introduced to encourage states to establish or expand reverse transfer programs.

The proposed law never went anywhere — but now it has been resurrected. Senate bill 2986, "Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act," was re-introduced in early June by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA) and Tim Kaine (D-VA). After two readings, the bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

The CREATE Graduates Act would serve to increase degree attainment by awarding competitive grants to states that:

  • Locate and award degrees to students who have accumulated enough credits to earn an associate degree but have not received one;
  • Provide outreach to students within 12 credits of obtaining an associate degree; and
  • Begin procedures to help future students receive degree audits and other information about graduation requirements.

"If a student has earned the credits required for an associate degree, they should be able to obtain it, period," said Casey in a prepared statement. "Our bill will encourage institutions of higher education to make common sense changes that will give students who have worked hard to earn their associate degree the chance to actually receive it and succeed in today's economy."

Added Kaine, "When students have put in the work toward a degree, community colleges and four-year institutions should work together to make that a reality. The CREATE Graduates Act will make it easier for these students to get their associate degree at a community college so they can enter the job market better prepared to compete in today's economy and earn higher wages."

A related bill was introduced in the House last year under the name, "Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2017." HR3774 had six Republican and two Democratic co-sponsors. That bill was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, where it has sat since September 2017.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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