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Harkin, Hagan Introduce Reverse Transfer Bill to Help Boost Degree Attainment

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) announced that they have introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act, legislation that helps young people receive the degrees they have earned by encouraging states to establish or expand “reverse transfer” programs. These programs allow four-year colleges and universities to transfer credits back to a community college where a student was originally enrolled. As a result, eligible students will be able to obtain an associate’s degree as they work to complete a four-year degree and enter the job market better prepared to compete and succeed.

“Too many students have done the work to earn a college degree but are not able to access the opportunities it brings,” Harkin said. “I applaud Senator Hagan’s legislation that helps states and institutions of higher education better coordinate with students to ensure they receive the full benefits of the college education they've already earned, including greater career opportunities, higher earnings, and a better future.”

“Too many North Carolina community college students transfer to a four-year school but have to leave before graduation to start a job, care for a family member or because they can no longer afford the cost of college, and they leave the university with nothing to show for their years of hard work, even though many have met the requirements to receive an associate’s degree,” Hagan said. “This bill will allow students to transfer their credits back to the community college where they were initially enrolled so they can receive the degree they have earned, helping them compete for a job, increase their earning potential and ultimately build a brighter future.”

The bill would authorize a competitive grant program for states that encourage institutions to identify and reach out to students who have a combination of community college and four-year university credits and may qualify for an associate’s degree. Specifically it would:

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

The legislation would build on the success of a grant-funded pilot program currently underway at schools in 15 states, which is expected to help thousands of students obtain their associate’s degree. The bill will help schools to continue these programs after funding expires later this year and will allow other institutions across the country to implement a “reverse transfer” program.

For more information about the bill, please click here.

Today 60 percent of jobs require at least some higher education or training. Students who receive an associate’s degree are more likely to secure employment, bring home a larger salary, and earn approximately $500,000 more over a lifetime than their peers without a college degree.