Moving from a Degree-Centric Postsecondary System to an Incremental Credentialing System: What Happens to Learners’ Financing Options?

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Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Incremental Credentialing

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Practices: Transfer As You Go

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Practices: Transfer As You Go

Transfer As You Go credentials are designed to be transferable across multiple higher education institutions and academic programs. These credentials can be sequential, allowing learners to progress to the next level of credential, or transferable across different programs at the same level. Transfer credentials can offer cost-sharing benefits when shared across different institutions or programs. The integrated pathways developed by transfer credentials help learners persist and complete their education. Additionally, these credentials provide clear and transparent options for learners to gain the necessary skills for work and academic advancement.

TransferBOOST, a pilot initiative launched in 2021 by the Institute for Higher Education Policy and HCM Strategists, worked across three states and 24 institutions to address transfer challenges. The program focuses on supporting Black, Latina/Latino, Indigenous, and AANHPI students and students from low-income backgrounds who are disproportionately affected by the broken transfer system. It seeks to remove barriers in the transfer system by clearly communicating and supporting community college students through a mapped pathway, streamlining time to degree, and providing clear costs. The program emphasizes the importance of committed leadership and consistency in the review of data to increase transfer success among these students.

The initiative started with an analysis of early indicators of student behaviors, experiences, and outcomes. It also examined institutions’ communication and marketing strategies to determine what is effective for which students. Participating schools also reviewed policies for unintended consequences and barriers, such as setting arbitrary GPA requirements for scholarships or transfer pathways. The report on the pilot initiative details five lessons learned:

  • Ensuring equity in transfer student outcomes requires consistency and intentionality.
  • Serving transfer students well is an essential enrollment strategy.
  • Institutions can make pathways more affordable and improve their own financial stability.
  • Partners should jointly communicate the pathway with an emphasis on the benefits.
  • Strong state and institutional partnerships drive transfer work.

Related work/initiatives:

ECMC Foundation Transfer and Credit Mobility Initiative

Aspen Institute & CCRC – Rising Up Through Stronger & More Equitable Transfer: Tracking Transfer & Transfer Playbook 2.0

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