Kresge and Lumina offer grants to ensure community college transfer students get ‘credit when it’s due’
Associate degrees often fall through the cracks after students move to four-year institutions.
The Kresge and Lumina foundations have teamed up to offer grants aimed at ensuring college students get credit – and credentials – for coursework that sometimes isn’t accounted for today.
Dubbed “Credit When It’s Due,” the grant opportunity is directed at a problem that affects community-college students who transfer to four-year institutions before receiving an associate degree from a two-year college.
The students transfer with the intention of earning a four-year baccalaureate degree. For some, especially part-time students, earning that degree will take longer than traditional two- or four-year completion periods.
“A transfer student may have completed enough credits for an associate degree, but still be years from a defined and marketable credential,” says Bill Moses, who directs Kresge’s Education Program.
While there are generally mechanisms in place for a four-year school to accept credits from a community college, there’s no system for the community college to log the credits earned after a transfer.
“If credits from the four-year institution were systematically recognized by the community college, the transfer student could be awarded an associate degree,” says Moses.
For students who go on to complete a baccalaureate degree, that would be an interim step helpful in the job market. For students who ultimately do not earn a four-year degree, it would provide some credential for their effort and investment.
“We think this is really important because, in most states, a significant number of the transfer students move from community colleges to four-year institutions before receiving the associate degree,” says Moses.
Kresge’s Education Program focuses on expanding access to higher education and opening avenues to academic success, particularly for under-represented students. Both Kresge and Lumina seek to increase the number of college graduates in the United States.
The Kresge-Lumina grant opportunity aims to encourage state education systems to implement consistent approaches to awarding associate degrees to these kinds of transfer students. The approach is commonly known as “reverse back” or “reverse transfer” degrees.
In addition to benefitting students, systemizing the way associate degrees are awarded would:
- Fairly credit community colleges for their work in preparing transfer students.
- Clarify the value of sub-baccalaureate degrees by awarding them consistently.
- Promote efforts to more clearly define the learning outcomes inherent in all associate degrees.
The grant opportunityis open to:
- State higher-education executive offices.
- State systems of higher education representing two- and four-year institutions, four-year institutions, or community colleges.
- Partnerships of two- and/or four-year institutions with a designated lead public postsecondary institution or nonprofit organization as grant manager.
The guidelines are available at Lumina Foundation. Applications for the joint effort will be accepted by Lumina.
Applications are now being accepted. The due date for grant proposals is June 27, at 5 p.m. EST.