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Reverse Transfer Policy

“Reverse transfer” refers to the process of awarding associate degrees to students currently enrolled in 4-year degree programs. Eligible students include those who transferred to a USG bachelor’s program from a USG 2-year degree program who have accumulated the appropriate credits at both institutions to satisfy the associate degree requirements. 

In 2015, a pilot program called the “Associate Degree you Deserve (ADD)” was conducted at East Georgia State College, Georgia Southern University and Augusta University that demonstrated the potential impact of a system-wide reverse transfer framework on degree completion. Additionally, research efforts like the National Student Clearinghouse Reverse Transfer Project suggest initiatives like this add significant value, and federal legislative efforts including The Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act suggest increasing attention will be given to awarding degrees to students who have taken alternative pathways to completion. 

This policy review intends to ensure policy supports reverse transfer by providing clarity regarding the credit transfer process and reducing the financial barriers for students attempting to receive an associate’s degree awarded through the reverse transfer process. By introducing these revisions in policy, the System Office hopes to encourage an increase in associate degrees awarded in the ADD program and support Complete College Georgia’s goal of increasing degree completion.

BACKGROUND

In fall 2015, East Georgia State College, Georgia Southern University and Augusta University participated in the ADD pilot program that identified transfer that had acquired the appropriate credits to receive an associate’s degree from East Georgia. During the pilot, the Office of Research and Policy Analysis identified 459 potentially eligible students that were once enrolled in East Georgia and had transferred to Georgia Southern or Augusta. Of those students, 112 students (24%) applied for the associate’s degree and 101 (22%) will be awarded. Thus far, nearly 12,000 current students have been identified system-wide that are potentially eligible to receive a degree through ADD. These figures represent a significant opportunity to award credentials to current and former students that demonstrates their level of educational attainment.

CHALLENGES

During the pilot, two main policy issues were highlighted that should be addressed as the system works to scale ADD:

  • Clarifying the transfer process in policy. Currently, system policy is silent on the reverse transfer process. Critical issues to address in policy and procedure include:
    • Defining reverse transfer and student eligibility
    • Responsibilities of institutions in the reverse transfer process
    • Regulations regarding sharing data among institutions
    • Guidance regarding student residency and percentage of credits that must be earned at the institution awarding the degree
  • Removing financial barriers for students. An issue that was raised during the pilot was regarding cost of the degree auditing and commencement ceremony for reverse transfer degree recipients. Graduation fees are typically charged when students apply to graduate and range from approximately $20 to $60. Important issues to address in policy and procedure include:
    • Shifting the payment of these fees from the final term of enrollment to the first term of enrollment, eliminating the financial barrier in the reverse transfer process
    • Establishing a cap on fees related to graduation to prevent future financial barriers
    • Including in policy permissible use of funds collected from fees related to graduation to degree auditing, commencement ceremony expenses and degree completion efforts

POLICIES UNDER REVIEW

As part of this policy review the following policies and procedures are under consideration for revision:

  • BOR Policy Manual
    • 3.3.1 Core Curriculum 
    • 3.3.6 Associate Degrees
    • 3.8.3 Residence Requirement for Degree
  • Academic and Student Affairs Handbook
    • 2.3.5 Degree Requirements
    • 2.4.9 Transfer Rules
    • 2.15 Associate Degrees
    • 2.15.3 **New Section on Reverse Transfer Guidelines
  • Business Procedures Manual
    • 2.8.1 General Ledger Accounts – Revenue Accounts, Operating Revenues
    • 24.3 Student Fees, Purposes and Uses

REVIEW PROCESS AND TIMELINE

This review will begin with an internal working group with representation from Academic Affairs and Administrative and Fiscal Affairs to create an initial draft of recommended policy and procedure changes and guidance for institutions. These materials will be reviewed by RACAA and RACRA during the fall in preparation for an initial preview and review for Board approval in spring 2017.