IHEP Guidebook Outlines How Lost Degrees Can Be Reclaimed Via Reverse Credit Transfers

A new guidebook from the Institute for Higher Education Policy (IHEP) addresses how institutions can create equity-centered “reverse credit transfers” — allowing the transfer of a student’s earned credits from four- or two-year institutions to a two-year institution that can award the student, if eligible, an associate degree.

DegreeAccording to IHEP, a disproportionate number of Black, Latinx, Indigenous and low-income students “unwittingly leave postsecondary credentials on the table without institutions awarding the associate degrees they have earned.” Initiatives such as reverse transfers, however, successfully help recover those associate degrees, argues IHEP through its guidebook, Reclaiming Earned Degrees Through Reverse Transfer. 

By studying existing reverse transfer initiatives in Los Angeles, California, and Richmond, Virginia, the guidebook outlines the reverse transfer process, “the role of strong partnerships between institutions, the need for data sharing to inform better advising pathways, and the hope for expanding to other institutions.” The guidebook also includes recommendations for other communities interested in creating equitable reverse transfer initiatives.

“Only 41 percent of students who transfer from community colleges do so after earning a certificate or degree,” noted Leanne Davis, Associate Director of Research and Policy at IHEP. “That means the vast majority of students who transfer take with them accumulated credits but no degree to show for their investment. Ensuring students claim earned degrees not only supports the students; reverse transfer benefits families, the workforce, and entire communities.”