Many community college students transfer to four-year institutions before having earned a degree. If the credits they’ve earned at the four-year institution could be applied to a program at the college from which they transferred, they may already be eligible for an associate degree.

Gaining an associate degree through reverse transfer would benefit students by more accurately reflecting their effort and increasing their value in the job market. Research also shows that students who earn an associate degree are statistically more likely to continue their studies and complete a bachelor’s degree. Because a disproportionate number of low-income students, first-generation students and students of color begin their postsecondary education at a community college, reverse transfer could help many of those historically underserved groups.

National Student Clearinghouse (the Clearinghouse), a nonprofit provider of educational reporting and data exchange, developed the Reverse Transfer platform, a free service to help colleges facilitate reverse transfer. But because colleges use different types of technology to track student information, only 70 institutions out of the 3,600 that use the Clearinghouse's other systems are using the service. The Reverse Transfer platform needs software improvements to make it easier for colleges to process reverse transfers.


In order to streamline the process and enable more two- and four-year institutions to transfer student credits, we made a $300,000 grant to the Clearinghouse to support software improvements for the Reverse Transfer platform.

This project built on work already underway to enhance the platform and will leveraged investments of approximately $1.7 million from The Kresge Foundation, Lumina Foundation, individual institutions and the Clearinghouse’s own resources. In summer 2019, the Clearinghouse released the enhanced platform capable of processing new file formats. We hope these improvements will allow more colleges to join the Reverse Transfer service and increase the number of degrees awarded nationwide.


Contact Senior Program Officer Sue Cui at