MORGANTOWN — West Virginia community college students who transfer to WVU before earning their associate degree will be able to receive the degree credentials retroactively through a new partnership between the institution, the West Virginia Community and Technical College System (WVCTCS) and the National Student Clearinghouse.
The partnership will use the Clearinghouse’s Reverse Transfer Service and is focused on boosting college completion rates across the state, WVCTCS and Pierpont Community & Technical College said in complementary press releases.
Under the agreement, if a student goes to a community college but transfers to WVU before earning an associate degree, the credits earned at WVU can be transferred back to the college, and the student will then have earned an associate degree while working toward a four-year one.
The credit transfer is made possible by a memorandum of understanding between West Virginia’s nine community and technical colleges, WVU and the Higher Education Policy Commission.
To participate, students must agree to have their WVU transcripts sent back to their community college, which will determine whether the students’ university courses meet requirements for degrees or other credentials.
Students who are in good standing with their community college will be eligible for reverse transfer when they earn at least 16 semester credit hours from the community college and at least three semester credit hours from WVU.
Students can benefit financially from this arrangement, the releases said. An associate degree can boost annual income anywhere from $4,640 to $7,160.
Paul Kreider, WVU’s vice provost for academic strategies, curriculum and assessment, explained in an email exchange: “Data shows that earning potential is increased with each: Certification, two-year degree, four-year degree and continues to climb with graduate education.
“Students may not complete a four-year degree for personal reasons, or any reason,” he said. “Reverse transfer will at least allow them to receive the two-year degree they earned since leaving the two-year institution, thus improving their earning potential.”
Kreider said WVU doesn’t have an estimate of how many students might participate. About 3,500 transfer students are enrolled, and 1,500 of those are state residents who may have attended a WVCTCS school and would be eligible to participate.
Asked what inspired the program, Kreider said, “This concept exists in several states. It started in West Virginia during the last decade but was never fully realized. This new effort is driven by WVU and Higher Education Policy Commission to begin to promote degree completion and improve the life-long prospects for West Virginia students.”
National Student Clearinghouse is a for-profit company that serves students and educational institutions across the country. It also offers institutions an array of free services.
Asked why a third party would be involved in intrastate data transfer, Kreider explained, “The National Student Clearinghouse is the organization that can provide real time data on all the institutions students may have att-ended. This is an important part of the process.
“Every institution must report to NSC for enrollment and graduation,” he said. “Our partnership (including the Reverse Transfer partnership with the CTC) is free.”