Last night, U.S. Reps. George Miller (D -- Calif.), the senior Democrat on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, and Rubén Hinojosa (D --Texas), the senior Democrat on the Higher Education and Workforce Training Subcommittee, introduced legislation aimed at removing the "friction of transfer" within a state's public system of higher education, including for community college students seeking to move on to four-year institutions. The legislation, the Transferring Credits for College Completion Act of 2012, would help alleviate the "friction of transfer" for students seeking to transfer between institutions by ensuring that students do not lose credits they have already paid for and earned, particularly for core education courses and when a student achieves an associate's degree Miller and Hinojosa were joined by several other Democratic lawmakers in introducing the legislation.
"Earning a college degree is taking students longer and costing them too much," said Rep. Miller. "This bill will remove many of the obstacles blocking the way for students working to obtain a degree or certificate by improving course transfer across higher education institutions. This common sense legislation is a big cost savings and, even more importantly, a time savings for students working towards a degree."
"When we said we wanted to make college more accessible and affordable for all college students, we meant it. When we see the increasing number of students wanting to earn a college degree, we must keep in mind that many are likely to transfer to other institutions of higher learning and this is why we must make their efforts easier and less costly," said Rep. Hinojosa. "Having our community colleges and universities working in tandem to help those students earn a college degree is a good and smart way of achieving that goal. Ultimately we want to see our college graduates begin their careers, join the workforce, and contribute to their communities and our economy."
Today, not all post-secondary students follow a traditional path to a degree at a single institution. Many students transfer among community colleges, state schools or private universities as they work to earn certificates and degrees. Unfortunately, for too many students seeking to enroll in another institution, it is unclear what courses, if any, will transfer. The transfer process from a two-year college to a four-year university can be confusing at best, with conflicting requirements that may complicate college completion. As a result, students may be forced to retake and pay all over again for coursework already taken simply because their credits didn't transfer. The Transferring Credits for College Completion Act of 2012 would encourage public colleges and universities to work together to guarantee a seamless transition for their students, helping them reduce their debt and complete their education more quickly.
The legislation comes at an important time as the Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training held a hearing today to discuss state efforts to curb rising college cost. As witnesses explained today, some states are working to create such a streamlined, transparent process to help students navigate obtaining a degree and have found that it saves money for both students and taxpayers. "Today, students can enroll at any community college in Louisiana, earn the Louisiana Transfer Degree--either an Associate's of Arts degree or an Associate's of Science degree and transfer to LSU or any of the state's 14 universities with junior status," said Dr. Joe D. May, President of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. "As the result of this initiative, the average student saves $2,117 while the state of Louisiana saves $1,930 per transfer student."
Stan Jones, President of Complete College America, echoed May's point. "Today's students move across campuses and systems to attain credentials," said Jones. "Coherent state policy and integrated state strategies are essential for assuring ease of transfer and efficient completion of academic programs."
The Transferring Credits for College Completion Act of 2012 will require that all institutions participating in federal student aid programs report on graduation rates of transfer students and publish information on transferability of all courses and programs of study in course books and online course guides. Additionally, the legislation requires that by 2014 all public institutions participating in Federal student aid programs participate in a common, statewide agreement that:
Provides for a common core curriculum across all public institutions within the state;
Provides for common course numbering within the common core curriculum; and
Guarantees that an associate's degree fulfills the first two years of a related program at a public 4-year institution within the state.