UT creates excellent national precedent with expanded reverse transfer program

Mary Dolan

For many students who transfer from two-year colleges, the transition to a four-year college can be stressful and daunting. The loss of invested work and money is surely among the worst part of the transfer. But, in recognition of such troubles and with a desire to aid such students, the University of Texas at Austin has developed a reverse transfer program.

Reverse transfer is when a four-year college transfers a student’s credits back to the two-year school previously attended by that student with the express intent of awarding an associate degree. The program intends to reward students for the classwork they have already done by making it tangible in the form of an associate degree. Such a move turns the credit transfer situation on its head, allowing a difficult process to now provide advantages in the job market.

Lower income students may find the benefits of reverse transfer especially useful. There are around eight million U.S. community college students, and the majority of those students come from low-income families. For these students, the financial and vocational benefits of the reverse transfer could be huge, if such transfer programs spread across the nation.

This is good news for both transfer students and UT.

“We know students who are awarded their associate degrees are more likely to earn an undergraduate degree and have greater earning power when they graduate,” UT Vice Provost and Registrar Shelby Stanfield said. “This is going to help students here on our campus today and across Texas.”

The reverse transfer system is not new, but it is expanding this year. UT has employed the reverse transfer process since 2011. Later, in 2013, the university expanded this program by partnering with Austin Community College to accommodate ACC credits transfers. Now, UT estimates that over 270,000 students in Texas alone could be eligible for associate degrees through reverse transfer.

The expansion of reverse transfer has tangible positives for students.

“I’m very happy to have something sort of tangible, because I went to ACC,” UT graduate Colson Tanskersley said to The Houston Chronicle. “I can put it on my resume.”

And since the reverse transfer program has been expanding over the past couple of years, the number of students eligible for reverse transfer benefits will only continue to rise. By instituting and expanding this program, UT has allowed numerous students to receive rewards for their hard work, and it will no doubt do the same for many more students in the coming years.

Dolan is a journalism student from Abilene. Follow her on Twitter @mimimdolan.