U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Colorado schools agree with Polis’s bill to increase college affordability and access

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Washington, September 14, 2017 | comments

Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., introduced bipartisan legislation to help more community college transfer students earn degrees, obtaining praise from the University of Colorado, Colorado State University, Front Range Community College, and the Colo. Dept. of Higher Education. 
The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2017 would streamline credit sharing between community colleges and four-year institutions so students can more easily attain a degree for credit they’ve earned.

“All levels of skills are needed in our modern, global economy.  Like all college degrees, a short-term certificate or an associate's degree can be the ticket to a better paying job,” Polis said. “This legislation makes sure that students are able to get the degree they deserve. It is only fair that students are awarded an associate's degree if they already completed the coursework for it.”

The bill makes it easier for students to earn a degree through a “reverse transfer,” where students who transferred from a community college to a four-year-institution but haven’t completed a bachelor’s degree, can apply those additional credits back toward an associate’s degree.

The bill has received support from numerous national and state education groups.

“This legislation provides colleges and universities with an important tool to support and significantly increase education attainment for millions of Americans,” said Dr. Kim Hunter Reed, executive director, Colorado Department of Higher Education. “By making it easier for students to reverse transfer, we are offering more pathways and creating additional opportunity.”

“The research is clear that a degree boosts earning power and employment opportunities.  Colorado is a leader in the nation in implementing a reverse transfer program to help community college students get their degrees.  I am happy to support efforts to extend and expand this program,” said Andrew Dorsey, president, Front Range Community College. 

"Institutions of higher education in Colorado, and across the country, have been working to promote participation in reverse transfer initiatives for several years. Amending FERPA to make it easier for 4-year institutions to share data back with community colleges from which students transfer will greatly facilitate these efforts and increase the number of individuals earning degrees and other credentials,” said Kristi Wold-McCormick, registrar, CU Boulder.

“Reverse Transfer mechanisms are now a routine part of the Colorado Higher Ed ecosystem, and we are fully supportive of expanding those opportunities,” said Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president, Colorado State University.

“The Reverse Transfer Efficiency Act of 2017 will enable more seamless institution-to-institution reverse credit transfers with full consent, and award hardworking students the credentials they have earned.  An associate’s degree or other credential can result in a pay bump or even a title change within the field; our postsecondary systems should aid, not impede, the transfer of credits,” said Dr. Julie Ajinkya, vice president of applied research, Institute for Higher Education Policy.

More than 30 percent of students who transfer from a community college to a four-year institution drop out before completing a bachelor’s degree. But often, they’ve earned enough for an associate’s degree if those credits are transferred back. Between 2003 and 2013, nearly two million transfer students nationwide who were eligible for an associate’s degree were not awarded diplomas. Associate’s degree holders earn about $400,000 more in a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma.

The proposed legislation would amend the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, which currently regulates the sharing of student credit information between higher education institutions, to make the process more open and efficient.

Polis serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce.  He is the top-Democrat on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee and a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee.  Polis is the former chair of the Colorado State Board of Education, and the founder and former superintendent of The New America School - a network of charter schools in several states serving new immigrants and English-language learners - as well as the Academy for Urban Learning for homeless and at-risk youth. The district he represents includes Colorado State University, University of Colorado Boulder, and Front Range Community College.

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Tags: Education

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