June 16, 2023

Castro, Neguse, Curtis, Warner and Braun Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Help More Transfer Students Earn College Degrees

WASHINGTON – This week, Reps. Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Joe Neguse (CO-02), and John Curtis (UT-03), along with Senators Mark R. Warner (VA) and Mike Braun (IN) introduced the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for community college transfer students to earn associate’s degrees as they continue their studies at four-year institutions. The bill would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) to create an exemption allowing an educational institution to share a student’s academic records with another educational institution, provided that the student was previously enrolled at that institution and is seeking the conferral of a degree. The legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Mazie Hirono (HI), John Hickenlooper (CO), and Elizabeth Warren (MA).

“Texas students shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get the degrees they earned,” said Congressman Joaquin Castro. “The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act will help community college transfer students get better jobs and career opportunities as they work toward a bachelor’s degree. Critically, the bill will also help reduce the number of Texans who leave school with debt but no degree and send a powerful message that all education is valuable, even when life circumstances put a four-year degree out of reach.”

“Every student deserves the opportunity to receive a quality education and pursue their career aspirations,” said Congressman Joe Neguse. “The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act helps to ensure 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 to better-paying jobs for students. This is a meaningful step for the future.”

“I am pleased to join in introducing the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act,” said Congressman John Curtis. “Utah is home to great schools with many students who begin their education at a community college and finish at a university. 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.”

“We should be removing barriers to higher education, not building new ones,” said Senator Mark Warner. “This commonsense legislation is a no-brainer, making sure that students are granted the degrees they have rightfully earned through their coursework – no matter where it was completed.”

“Considering the crisis of student debt weighing on our next generations, we need to make it easier for students to seek cost-effective education choices,” said Senator Mike Braun. “This bill will enable students to transfer credits from 4 year institutions to community colleges.” 

The National Student Clearinghouse, an educational nonprofit that verifies enrollment data, has identified over four million individuals across the country 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.

The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act has the support of numerous organizations, including the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers, The University of Texas System, Texas Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admission Officers, American Association of Community Colleges, Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, and the Institute for Higher Education Policy, among others. For a complete list, click here.

“This legislation is an important step that will enable institutions to increase learner attainment of a quality credential, which translates into better paying jobs, for millions of in individuals,” said Melanie Gottlieb, 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.”

“Today approximately 40 million people nationwide have earned some college credits, but no degree or credential,” said Institute for Higher Education Policy President and CEO Mamie Voight. “That’s a missed opportunity for these students to boost their earnings and secure economic mobility, as well as a missed opportunity for our communities who stand to benefit from a more educated workforce and citizenry. IHEP research shows how strong partnerships between two-year and four-year colleges can begin their studies at one institution, then go on to earn a degree or credential at another. Innovative solutions like the Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act would facilitate the scaling of reverse credit transfer between institutions and help more colleges identify degree-eligible students so they can get the credentials they have earned.”

A copy of the bill text is available here