Lone Star College, Clearinghouse Provide a Pathway to Success with Reverse Transfer
States Look to Reverse Transfer to Help Students Succeed
By Lone Star College System’s Dr. Stephen C. Head, Chancellor; Jamie Posey, Associate Vice Chancellor, Office of Completion; and Connie S. Garrick, Director of Student Records and Registrar
Many states across the nation are implementing programs offering reverse transfer of credits for associate degrees. Reverse transfer allows students to receive an associate degree that accurately reflects their educational attainment and allows them to compete more successfully in higher education and the workforce.
Through the work of the Texas Completes cadre and the Lone Star College completion plan, reverse transfer is a tool to support student completion. Lone Star College (LSC) is the lead institution of the Texas Completes cadre of seven colleges, which share a commitment to improve student success and completion.
The National Student Clearinghouse’s Reverse Transfer Service provides a mechanism for four-year institutions to send transcript data electronically to two-year colleges. In order to qualify for reverse transfer in Texas, students must have earned at least 30 credit hours at the two-year institution and a total of at least 60 credit hours after enrolling at the four-year institution to be a candidate for an associate degree via reverse transfer.
In 2014, reverse transfer was successfully implemented between LSC, the Clearinghouse, and many other institutions nationwide. In the first two years, LSC awarded an additional 1,900 associate degrees due to reverse transfer, many of which would not have received that credential without the Clearinghouse Reverse Transfer Service. We are excited with these results and know that this is a huge step in our overall effort to improve student completion. The next step is finalizing the development of comprehensive pathways for students to help them accomplish their goals on time without excess credits.
In addition to helping students complete their credentials, there are several institutional benefits from participating in the Clearinghouse’s Reverse Transfer Service. Benefits include:
- First, the Clearinghouse’s Reverse Transfer Service is user-friendly and efficient. Four-year institutions provide the data directly to the Clearinghouse, which is then shared in a format appropriate to the receiving two-year institution’s needs. The four-year institutions do not have to parse their file by the receiving institution. Rather, they can bulk load their student data, and the Clearinghouse takes care of sorting and sending the files to the relevant two-year institutions.
- Second, the technology uses an electronic (EDI) format or a flat file that can be downloaded to Excel so that institutions may easily send or receive transcript data for Reverse Transfer purposes.
- Third, reporting mechanisms are in place so that both the four-year and two-year institutions can easily track student data.
- Finally, it is free for institutions to participate.
Moving forward, LSC has made some key recommendations that could further the reverse transfer efforts throughout Texas. We need clarification of state and federal law regarding the consent required from students, both at the university and community college, for their participation in reverse transfer. Additional statewide data reports that quantifies reverse transfer graduates would help clarify the potential scope of the effort statewide as well as resource identification (both human and technical). In addition, Clearinghouse technology provides more recent student contact information as long as the four-year institution populates the information. Continued work is needed to ensure this information is provided by all partners so that we can effectively communicate with students.
“In the first two years, Lone Star awarded an additional 1,900 associate degrees because of reverse transfer. Many students would not have received their credentials without the Clearinghouse’s Reverse Transfer Service.”