SUNY grant provides for reverse-transfer of credits

The State University of New York recently received a $500,000 grant that will enable students to reverse-transfer credits between four-year colleges and their original community colleges in order to secure their associate degrees.

According to Savitri Iyer, dean of curriculum and academic services, reverse-transfer allows students to take courses at four-year colleges that transfer back to community colleges, allowing those students to obtain associate degrees even though they no longer attend those schools.

Before the implementation of reverse transfer, many students lost the opportunity to receive a two-year degree even if they were only a few credits away from earning it. Now, when students transfer to any four-year SUNY college from a community college, they can take classes that will satisfy associate degree requirements and transfer them back to earn their degrees.

“Normally in transferring, students forget their old school and credits,” said Iyer, who said that she supported reverse transfer. “This will help them have a two-year associate degree, especially if they are very close to completion. Geneseo is happy to do this and to help students receive both an associate and bachelor’s degrees.”

“Community colleges are also interested because they will improve their graduation [rates],” Iyer said.

According to The Journal News, the grant that made reverse-transfer possible came from the Lumina Foundation, an organization committed to higher education.

Iyer said that reverse transfer does not exclude schools outside of the SUNY system.

“The bulk of our transfer students come from SUNY community colleges or from out-of-state four-year universities,” Iyer said. “It is not impossible to transfer from out of state.”

DegreeWorks, a software tool that compares course and general education history to the requirements for a degree, will be used throughout the implementation of reverse transfer. Iyer said she is excited about this new technology, and that they will be launching it soon.

The program will help transfer students choose four-year SUNY schools that can provide their final credit requirements for their associate degrees.

“It is a big project, and I want it to be perfect,” Iyer said. “It will definitely be a step up from ‘WebCAPP,’ [which] is currently on KnightWeb.”

“It will be easy to read and easy for students to use,” she said, adding that the software will be “clean” and “reliable.”

“DegreeWorks is only for Geneseo now; we are the first cohort of the SUNY schools to do this,” she said. “All will be on the platform. This is a future process; it is a huge ship to build.”

“I don’t see any negatives at all in the reverse transfer of credits,” Iyer said. “It involves, of course, students planning and making sure they take the proper classes to satisfy degree requirements.”

“There are many, many positives,” she said. “It will help students who transfer make an easier transition. Students will be glad to know that there is an incentive to transfer and get their associate degree.”