September 21, 2022

Congressman Castro Introduces Bill to Improve Credit Transfer Process for Community College Students

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20) introduced the Transparency for Transfer Students Act, legislation to improve college completion rates by reducing the number of community college students who lose academic credit when transferring to four-year institutions.

This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to clarify requirements for disclosure of transfer credit policies, including what information colleges and universities are required to publish on their websites and relevant publications regarding transfer agreements.

"Community college is an affordable, accessible way for many students to start their education – but at too many schools, complicated transfer policies make it harder for transfer students to earn a four-year degree,” said Congressman Castro. “The Transparency for Transfer Students Act will provide students with better information on college articulation agreements, preventing credit loss and helping students save valuable time and money as they pursue their degrees.”

“Time is the enemy of degree completion for many students,” said Dr. Mike Flores, Chancellor of the Alamo Colleges District. “Our approach at the Alamo Colleges to use comprehensive Transfer Advising Guides (TAGs) coupled with the connection to a certified academic advisor not only saves our students time, but allows them to be job-ready when they graduate from one of the Alamo Colleges or to transfer to a university.”

“The American Association of Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) is pleased to endorse the Transparency for Transfer Students Act,” said David Tritelli, AAC&U Vice President for Communications and Public Affairs. “By making information on articulation agreements more readily accessible, the Act would help ensure that the significant number of students who move between institutions on their paths to the college degree don’t get derailed by the decision to transfer.”

“For decades, a convoluted transfer system has delayed and denied far too many students from earning their bachelor’s degrees and meeting workforce demand. A lack of coordination leaves students and families to piece together information from different systems, schools, and departments,” said Jessie Ryan, Executive Vice President of the Campaign for College Opportunity. “This lack of clarity means students spend more time and money attempting to transfer, leading to alarmingly low rates of transfer student success. The Transparency for Transfer Students Act is timely policy that has the potential to transform transfer for millions of students across the country”.

“Community colleges play a critical role in helping Latino students access higher education and often serve as the first step on their college journey. While we have seen more Latinos enroll in community colleges, we also saw during the pandemic a significant drop in transfer rates among Latino community college students. The ‘Transparency for Transfer Students Act’ is critical to providing students with the information they need to be able to transfer successfully and complete a 4-year degree. We thank Rep. Castro for introducing the bill and look forward to working with him to get it passed,” said Amanda Fernández, Founder/CEO, Latinos for Education.

According to the American Association of Community Colleges, nearly 40% of all U.S. undergraduates attend a community college – and among those, Latinos make up 50% of students. However, only 30% of community college students successfully transfer to a four-year institution; and on average, community college transfer students lose 40% of coursework credits when shifting to a four-year university. Making up for the loss of credits can cost transfer students up to tens of thousands of dollars more in educational costs.

In 2017, a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report recommended that the Department of Education require schools to disclose the institutions with which they have articulation agreements and requires schools to provide additional transfer information. GAO estimated that only about 68% of schools listed such information. The percentage decreases for private nonprofit or private for-profit institutions, at around 54% and 47%, respectively.

Specifically, the Transparency for Transfer Students Act:

  • Ensures that schools disclose their articulation agreements in an easy-to-find manner on their websites and relevant publications;
  • Requires institutions to provide a link to the website of all institutions they have articulation agreements with; and 
  • Requires institutions to provide a list of transfer-related resources such as transfer student deadlines, financial aid information, and relevant staff contact information

To read the text of the Transparency for Transfer Students Act, click here.