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Credit When It’s Due

Author: Helios Education Foundation

August 10, 2015

How do you increase the degree completion rate of college students?

You give them Credit When It’s Due.

The Credit When It’s Due initiative develops reverse transfer programs and policies that enable students to receive an associate’s degree when students meet associate’s degree requirements after transfer to a 4-year institution. In order to obtain the reverse transfer degree, students must successfully complete the appropriate number of college-level courses, thus accumulating the required number of credits equivalent to an associate’s degree.

Launched in 2012, the Credit When It’s Due initiative is funded by six foundations – Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Greater Texas Foundation, Kresge, Lumina, USA Funds and Helios Education Foundation - and is currently supporting the development of reverse transfer programs within 16 states including Arizona and Florida.

One example of the reverse transfer process, as implemented in Florida, includes the identification of qualified students often done by way of the National Student Clearinghouse. Students who meet the criteria are then contacted and asked to “opt-in” to the reverse transfer program. Upon engagement in the process, student transcripts are exchanged between the four-year and two-year institutions and the appropriate audit is conducted to ensure student compliance, ultimately leading to degree conferral.

“Credit When It’s Due gives students the satisfaction of having achieved a milestone along their progressive education track” explained Kathy Bucklew, Director of Student Enrollment Services at Polk State College in Florida. “Many students I’ve contacted did not even know they qualified for an AA degree.”

Since the inception of Polk State College’s reverse transfer effort in December of 2013, the college has conferred a total of 70 degrees. By way of this focused effort, Polk State College has not only conferred degrees to students that have gone on to enroll in four-year institutions, the college has also engaged former students who found themselves only a few credits shy of an AA degree and re-engaged them in degree completion. “Credit When It’s Due gives students a huge amount of value, particularly when sitting for an interview” shared Bucklew. “Employers who hire someone with an AA degree understand that this individual has engaged in higher level English, math and science courses; that he/she is a goal setter and can reach goals.”

Sensitivity to student privacy issues has proven a challenge to some institutions involved in the Credit When It’s Due process. However, synergistic relationships between two-year and four-year institutions continue to evolve. Polk State College has adopted a proactive stance related to information exchange and now includes an information exchange disclosure clause within enrollment documents.

The opportunity for students to receive conferral of a degree already earned not only empowers the individual student, but also showcases the educational attainment of each state’s workforce. According to the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, by 2020, 65 percent of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school. The Credit When It’s Due initiative brings validation of students’ educational achievements and positions them for workforce success.

Category: Postsecondary Success

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