May 15, 2019

Neguse Introduces Bipartisan, Bicameral Legislation to Increase Community College Access and Affordability

Washington D.C.— Today, Representative Joe Neguse (D-CO), with the support of Representatives Elise Stefanik (R-NY) and  Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and U.S. Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), introduced bipartisan bicameral legislation to help more community college transfer students earn degrees. The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2019 would ensure students who have transferred from community college to a four-year institution can obtain an associate’s degree with the reverse transfer of class credits. Specifically, the legislation would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which currently regulates the sharing of student credit information between higher education institutions, to make the process more open and efficient.

“We must ensure every student is provided a pathway to education that fits their goals and career path,” said 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.”

“With the increasing burden of student loan debt and heightened demand for postsecondary credentials in the workforce, everyone who spends their hard-earned money and valuable time pursuing higher education should receive credit for every course they successfully complete,” said Warner. “Unfortunately, millions of people across the nation who have paid for and worked towards a college degree have walked away without any credential due, in part, to unnecessary bureaucratic policies that make it difficult to transfer college credits between institutions. By cutting through the red tape, this legislation will make it easier for folks to receive degrees they have already earned and enter the workforce with higher earning potential.”

“Higher education should not be relegated to a one-size-fits-all mold,” said Stefanik. “In a modern economy, many students do not have the ability to finish four consecutive years of college, and many students’ career paths are non-traditional. College credit should not be lost because of a difference in career path or lifestyle. The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act provides for access, affordability, and efficiency in the college transfer process. I’m proud to support this bipartisan, bicameral legislation that will enact meaningful change in so many students’ educational journey.”

“We know that by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs will require postsecondary education and training,” said Fudge.  “Not all requirements will be for degrees from 4-year institutions.  The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act will address prior failures to recognize credit hours and allow students to maximize the dollars they spend on post-secondary education and training.   Facilitating credit transfers from 4-year to 2-year institutions will help provide students with more options while preparing for their futures, ensure future workforce needs are met, and increase higher education completion rates.”

“We’re constantly looking for ways to improve higher education, and this commonsense measure will make it easier for students to earn the recognition they deserve for the work they have done,” said Isakson. “I’m glad to reintroduce this legislation to help more Americans succeed.”

More than 30 percent of students who transfer from a community college to a four-year institution drop out before completing a bachelor’s degree. Moreover, students with an associate’s degree on average earn $200,000 more in their lifetimes than individuals who have some college credits but never graduated, and earn $400,000 more in a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma.

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), as well as the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College, the Colorado Department of Education along with multiple national and state education groups:

“AACRAO believes the additional FERPA exception proposed in the reverse transfer 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,” stated AACRAO's Executive Director, Michael Reilly. “This legislation will lead to increased education attainment for millions of individuals.”

“This legislation allows us to recognize many more students and say, ‘We believe in you, we know you can do it and we can help you get there,’ ” said Dr. Angie Paccione, executive director at the Colorado Department of Higher Education. “Reverse transfer restores and builds upon a student’s momentum, either retaining or drawing them back to a postsecondary education and awarding them their hard-earned degree.”

“The research is clear that a degree boosts earning power and employment opportunities.  Colorado is a leader in the nation in implementing a reverse transfer program to help community college students get their degrees.  I am happy to support efforts to extend and expand this program,” said Andrew Dorsey, president at Front Range Community College.

"Institutions of higher education in Colorado, and across the country, have been working to promote participation in reverse transfer initiatives for several years. Amending FERPA to make it easier for 4-year institutions to share data back with community colleges from which students transfer will greatly facilitate these efforts and increase the number of individuals earning degrees and other credentials,” said Kristi Wold-McCormick, registrar at CU Boulder.

“Reverse Transfer mechanisms are now a routine part of the Colorado Higher Ed ecosystem, and we are fully supportive of expanding those opportunities,” said Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president at Colorado State University.

The full list of higher education systems and state and regional associations that are supportive of the bill include the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, the City University of New York (CUNY), Colorado Department of Higher Education, Colorado Community College System, Des Moines Area Community College, Indiana Commission for Higher Education, Ivy Tech Community College, Maricopa County Community College District, Massachusetts Department of Higher Education, North Carolina Community College System, North Carolina Association of Community College Presidents, Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education, Oregon Community College Association, Salt Lake Community College, the State of Tennessee Higher Education Commission, the State University of New York System (SUNY), the Tennessee Board of Regents, the University of Colorado - All Campuses, the University of Tennessee System, the University System of Georgia, the University of Texas System, Virginia Community College System, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education, the Rocky Mountain Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (RMACRAO), Southern Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (SACRAO), Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (TACRAO),  Indiana Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (IACRAO), Missouri Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (MACRAO), Kansas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (KACRAO), Middle States Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (MSACROA), Nebraska Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers (NACRAO), Alabama Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (ALACRAO) and Chesapeake and Potomac Association of College Registrar and Admission Officers (CAPACARO).

This legislation is the 11th bill introduced by Congressman Neguse in the 116th Congress, and the second bill that looks directly at improving college affordability and access. Congressman Neguse previously served on the University of Colorado Board of Regents, where he served a six-year term fighting to make higher education more affordable.