Interstate Passport Briefing

Reverse Transfer plus Interstate Passport®: A partnership to help transfer students

By Roland Squire, WICHE Consultant Registrar Expert

Reverse Transfer using the technology provided by the National Student Clearinghouse ( allows students who transfer without earning an Associate degree to be awarded that degree after transfer to a four-year institution. Receiving that credential may encourage the student to continue on to complete a Bachelor’s degree or to gain better employment if required to stop-out for a time.

More than half of all students who move from a two-year institution to a four-year institution do so prior to achieving an Associate degree. One reason that students transfer “early” is the need to take specific courses for a chosen major during the first two years. Other students transfer as soon as they have acquired the resources to do so, or when they have been admitted to their chosen institution or degree program. Some students do not achieve an Associate degree before transfer because they have avoided specific general education requirements – often math or science – and these students are also less likely than others to reach the Baccalaureate. Whatever the reasons for not completing the AA degree, the two-year institution is a great place to complete the lower-division general education requirements before transferring.

Interstate Passport recognizes the work done by students who complete their lower-division general education requirements. Once those requirements are met, the participating institution awards a Passport and reports that information to the National Student Clearinghouse, so that record can be verified in the same way that degrees are verified through NSC’s DegreeVerify service. That Passport is then recognized by all institutions participating in the Interstate Passport Network. When a student transfers with the Passport, the receiving institution recognizes that Passport and its degree audit system shows all lower-division general education requirements as met. (

Two initiatives working together. The reverse transfer process can recognize which students have not yet been awarded an Associate degree and when those students have achieved enough credits to earn that degree. The four-year institution can then let the two-year institution know who these students are. The two-year institution then must articulate the courses and review the degree audit to determine if and when the students are eligible candidates for the degree.

But knowing that a student has the Interstate Passport, the two-year Network member institution knows that its general education requirements have been met and it need only focus on whether the student has the required number of credits (plus any other graduation requirements – e.g., some two-year institutions require a health/wellness course or a community service activity for graduation.)

The bottom line is that these two initiatives can help transfer students and can also simplify the work by institutions to identify eligible Associate degree candidates.

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