July 20, 2021

Neguse, Hickenlooper Introduce Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Help Students “Reverse” Transfer Credits From Four-Year Universities to Community Colleges

Legislation would make it easier to help students attain rightfully earned degrees or certification 

Washington D.C.— This week, Congressman Joe Neguse and Senator John Hickenlooper unveiled bipartisan bicameral legislation to help more community college transfer students earn degrees. The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2021would facilitate the “reverse transferring” of college credits – the process of transferring credits from a four-year institution to a two-year institution in which a student was previously enrolled to identify whether they earned enough credits along the way to receive a degree. The legislation is sponsored by Senator Warner in the Senate and has the support of Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Representatives John Curtis (R-UT) and Joaquin Castro (D-TX). 

“We must ensure every student is provided a pathway to education that fits their goals and career path,” said Congressman Neguse. “This legislation ensures that students can receive credit and earn an associate’s degree or short-term certificate regardless of where they completed their coursework, breaking down barriers for better paying jobs for students who are unable to finish at a four-year institution. Reverse transfer will be a meaningful step for millions of students to increase college affordability and access.”

“Our education system has to support different paths to a successful career,” said Sen. Hickenlooper. “Many students who graduate high school never get a four year degree. Making it easier to recognize the work students have already done is a no-brainer.” 

“This much-needed bill would help to eliminate an unnecessary hurdle for students who’ve worked hard and paid for their studies,” said Sen. Warner. “In a competitive job market, this bipartisan bill will help more Americans claim the degree or credentials that they have rightfully earned.”

“There is no single or correct path to higher education,” said Congressman Castro.“As students face increasing tuition costs and student loan debt, it is clear that many students are starting their post-secondary academic goals at community colleges. In my district, Alamo Colleges is the largest provider of higher education in South Texas and proves that two-year programs are critical in preparing students for success beyond their hallways. The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act will allow these students to easily transition to four-year universities, like the University of Texas at San Antonio in my district, with an associate’s degree as well as the skillset to finish their studies and successfully enter the workforce.”

“I am pleased to join Representative Neguse in introducing the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act. Utah is home to great schools with many students who begin their education at a community college and finish at a university,” said Congressman Curtis. “This bill will improve data sharing between higher education institutions by allowing a student to continue earning credits towards an Associate’s degree at community college, even after transferring to a university, boosting student earning potential and student retention.”

“Reverse transfer legislation is an important way to support thousands of community college students nationwide in earning a degree economically while still transferring to a university when they are ready,” said Andy Dorsey, President of Front Range Community College. “Over the past few years, more than 500 Front Range Community College students have taken advantage of Colorado’s reverse transfer options to earn their associates degree.  As reverse transfer becomes more efficient, we will be able to help many more transfer students get the degrees they have earned.” 

“Colorado State University shares with other Colorado higher education institutions a deep passion to promote student success through expanding opportunities for degree achievement at all levels,” said Mary Pedersen, Provost and Executive Vice President at Colorado State University. “We join community colleges and universities in our state and across the nation who support reverse transfer options to meet our students where their needs are, and to be responsive to the challenges in the changing world and workforce.”

The National Student Clearinghouse, an educational nonprofit that verifies enrollment data, has identified over four million individuals that 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. Facilitating the practice of reverse transfer would ease students’ access to credentials they have already earned and better provide for the demands of the future economy.  

The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2021 would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to create a new exemption for the sharing of student education records between higher education institutions. The bill would also allow for the sharing of credit data between post-secondary institutions for the sole purpose of determining whether a student earned an associate’s degree or certificate during the course of their studies. Currently, FERPA requires students to give their institutions proactive permission to determine whether they have earned enough credits to be awarded a degree or certificate.  

“AACRAO believes this legislation is an important step that will enable institutions to increase educational attainment, and ultimately salaries, for millions of in individuals,” said Melanie Gottlieb, Interim Executive Director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (AACRAO). “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 bill has earned praise from the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), American Association of Community Colleges (AACC), Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP), Student Veterans of America (SVA),  University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College, the Colorado Department of Education along with multiple national and state education groups.