Five Funders Award $6.4 Million to Help Transfer Students Complete Associate Degrees

USA Funds and the Bill & Melinda Gates, Helios Education, Kresge, and Lumina foundations have announced grants totaling $6.4 million in support of a multi-state initiative to help students who transfer from community colleges complete their associate degrees.

Launched last April, the initiative, Credit When It's Due: Recognizing the Value of Quality Associate Degrees, is designed to encourage partnerships among community colleges and universities and expand programs that award associate degrees to transfer students when they complete the requirements for the degree while pursuing a bachelor's degree — an approach known as "reverse transfer." Grants were awarded to universities, college associations, and departments of education in Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Oregon.

The Gates and Lumina foundations will assist the Office of Community College Research and Leadership at the University of Illinois in collecting data on the outcomes of these scale-up activities. "A key interest is to learn if reverse transfer makes a difference in baccalaureate-degree completion for students awarded the associate degree on route to the baccalaureate — and if so, for which students," said Gates Foundation program officer Elise Miller. "We have learned from some pilot efforts that receiving the associate degree does have a motivational impact, encouraging some students to keep pursuing the baccalaureate. For others, receiving the associate degree helps them secure better employment while they're continuing in school part-time."

For a complete list of grant recipients and their project descriptions, visit the Helios Education Foundation Web site.