Transfer News

North Idaho College Joins Groundbreaking College Transfer Network

Student now earn Passports enabling seamless transfer across state lines

March 16, 2018, Boulder, CO – Thousands of students at North Idaho College (NIC) in Coeur d’Alene are in line for a big benefit that didn’t exist when they first enrolled – a Passport allowing them to seamlessly transfer to any campus to which they are accepted in a growing nationwide network of schools.

For decades, the headaches of transferring colleges have been legendary: Each course being transferred had to be linked, one at a time, with an equivalent course at the new school. It was a painstakingprocess that cost colleges and students time and money. Students frequently lost credit for courses that would not transfer or had to re-take courses to fulfill requirements at the new college. More concerning is that according to National Governors Association and Complete College America, many students simply opted out of the process and out of completing a degree.

Now, the Interstate Passport Network (IPN), a nationwide network of two- and four-year colleges and universities, allows students to block-transfer lower division general education credits to any member institution based on learning outcomes rather than the individual courses they’ve taken.

The growing network encompasses 25 institutions across nine states and is aiming for comprehensive national coverage. North Idaho College is the latest institution to come aboard.

“As a community college, North Idaho College is an open-access institution,” said Lita Burns, Vice President of Instruction at NIC. “Joining Interstate Passport broadens our concept of open-access for our students from open access to entry, to now also having access to completion.”

North Idaho College offers a wide spectrum of degrees and certificates for academic transfer, as well as career and technical education programs for the Coeur d’Alene, the five northern counties of Idaho, and the Spokane/Eastern Washington area. The college serves approximately 6,000 students in credit classes and 4,400 in non-credit courses. Along with its main campus, NIC serves the Idaho panhandle with outreach centers in surrounding counties.

“North Idaho College has long been a leader in offering innovative educational advantages, and their IPN membership will allow NIC students to pursue their education at other Network member institutions, without the barriers of an outdated transfer process,” said Patricia Shea, Director of Interstate Passport. “The traditional transfer process often leaves students frustrated and that sometimes leads to them dropping out before completing a degree. As the Interstate Passport Network grows, more students will be motivated to complete their degrees and become part of the modern workforce.”

In today’s increasingly mobile society, more and more students transfer schools multiple times during their academic careers, Shea said. According to a 2015 report by the National Student Clearinghouse, about 4 in 10 students will transfer schools during their college career, and 1 in 4 of those will move to schools in different states. That means thousands of students nationwide stand to benefit from the Interstate Passport Network once it is fully implemented, according to Shea.

Last year 28,000 students who completed their lower division general coursework earned Passports at member institutions. Interstate Passport’s block transfer of credits will take effect for those students who transfer to other member institutions after acceptance.

For more on the Interstate Passport, visit

Transfer News

New Program Manager for Interstate Passport

We are pleased to welcome Anna Galas as the new Program Manager for the Interstate Passport program. Anna takes over duties from Cathy Walker, who is retiring at the end of March. Anna is now a full-time staff member at WICHE – she has been providing consulting services as the database coordinator for the WICHE Internet Course Exchange program since 2014. In addition, Galas was the Program Manager for NEXus:The Nursing Education Xchange (NEXus), administered by the Western Institute of Nursing (WIN) at Oregon Health and Science University. In this position, Anna coordinated the efforts of a 20-member institution consortium offering an online course exchange for doctoral programs in nursing. Member institutions spanned the nation from New York to Hawaii. NEXus has utilized WICHE ICE since its inception.

Previously Anna held several positions in higher education and at the state level including Program Manager for the Nutrition Education Program, Lane County Extension Service, Oregon State University; Health Educator Consultant, the Division of Health Awareness and Tobacco, Florida Department of Health; and Clinical Director, the Athletic Training Service Center, International Institute for Sport and Human Performance, University of Oregon. She holds a M.S. in Exercise and Movement Science from the University of Oregon, and is based in Eugene, Oregon. Anna can be reached at

Transfer News

Q&A: Passport Quality Assurance

How are Interstate Passport institutions held accountable for the grade C minimum requirement of the Passport?

One of the measures that assures the quality of the Passport awarded to students is a minimum grade requirement for Passport Block courses. In order to be awarded a Passport, a student must earn at least a C in every course in the Passport Block on the transcript. A grade lower than C would not assure proficiency on all of the Passport Learning Outcomes the institution had associated with that course. Member institutions agree to this requirement, and registrar and institutional research staff ensure that students earning a Passport meet this requirement.

The Interstate Passport tracking mechanism – Academic Progress Tracking – will verify if student is prepared to succeed at another institution. If an institution determines that a student has achieved all the learning outcomes in a course or block of courses, it’s the faculty’s decision to accept that learning and apply the appropriate credits. The agreement between institutions and the Network is to make sure that students earning Passports have achieved the competence they need to move forward.

Transfer News

New Interstate Passport Website

A newly designed and streamlined website for the Interstate Passport program was launched last week with improved navigation and graphics. The new site, created by Educational Marketing Group, an education consulting company based in Colorado, is targeted at network members and potential members as well as students. The new site was launched in conjunction with our marketing campaign intended to reach two- and four-year institutions nationwide. Press releases were sent to stakeholders at all member institutions as well as to provosts and chief academic officers at colleges and universities throughout the country and to a number of media outlets. As we put the finishing touches on a few pages, we welcome feedback and questions about the new site – contact Kate Springsteen at

Transfer News

In Groundbreaking Initiative 28,000 Students Earn Interstate Passports in 2016-17

Program to save money and prevent headaches for college transfer students

Nearly four in 10 college students will transfer institutions at least once during their college careers, and almost a quarter of those will enroll in an institution in another state, according to data from the National Student Clearinghouse. Until now, transferring between schools – especially across state lines – has been made more difficult and expensive by lengthy credit evaluation processes and loss of credit already earned.

Now, Interstate Passport, a groundbreaking program designed to expand nationwide, will help college students save time and money through seamless college transfers based on a set of learning outcomes rather than on specific courses and credits. Participating institutions agree on learning outcomes on the front end rather than credit evaluation on the back end of the transfer process.

Institutions participating in the Interstate Passport Network award Passports – which are confirmations of a student’s successful completion of lower-division general education requirements, indicated on a student’s transcript – to all students who achieve the Passport Learning Outcomes. When students with Passports are admitted to other Network member institutions, their lower-division general education coursework transfers as a completed block.

In its inaugural academic year (2016-17), nearly 28,000 students at 16 participating institutions earned Passports, simplifying the transfer process – by eliminating the unnecessary repetition of learning already achieved – for those who opt to transfer after admission to any member institutions.

“Students face many barriers when they try to transfer from one institution to another, especially when they transfer to an institution in a different state,” said Patricia Shea, director of Academic Leadership Initiatives for the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), which is managing the network. “Interstate Passport was created by a team of academic leaders and faculty from colleges and universities in multiple states to make the college transfer process more economical, efficient and seamless for students. It is also designed to improve institution performance metrics by increasing student completion rates.”

“Hawaii, as with many states, is embarking on a guided pathways strategy; and this work is overdue. But this effort will not help the thousands of students who cross state lines to finish their education,” said Peter Quigley, associate vice president of academic affairs for the University of Hawaii System and a co-chair of the Interstate Passport Review Board. “Half of Hawaii’s community college transfer students go out of state. We care about their degree completion and know that Interstate Passport will provide them with an easier and more welcoming transfer process. And, the process of establishing two-to-four-year transfer expectations begins inside each state and helps start much needed conversations at home regarding general education outcomes.”

Even for students who don’t transfer, earning a Passport can be beneficial. Because of its specifically defined learning outcomes, the Passport can become a widely recognizable documented completion benchmark from which employers can gauge a prospect’s skill level and readiness for a job.

Participation in Interstate Passport Network also promises its member institutions a competitive advantage. “We’ve seen declines in students entering our system, which is why we’re so interested in the Interstate Passport Network,” said Paul Turman, system vice president for academic affairs, South Dakota Board of Regents and co-chair of the Interstate Passport Review Board. “Making transfers easier is a huge benefit that will help us attract and retain more students in our state.”

Currently, 24 colleges and universities are members of the nationwide Interstate Passport Network, with more institutions exploring participation. As some students awarded Passports in the first year begin to transfer, and as others join them in subsequent years, its benefits will become apparent in the data. Wider early adoption by institutions and states would mean broader availability and more choices for students, as well as building a deeper database to understand and improve interstate transfer. To encourage early adoption, the first 100 institutions can join the Interstate Passport Network at no cost for the first five years, after which institutions will pay modest annual dues.

Transfer News

Interstate Passport Initiative Framework Complete

Faculty may now use the Passport Learning Outcomes to construct their institution’s Passport Block, which is a list of courses or other learning experiences by which its students achieve the Passport Learning Outcomes. Once an institution has completed its Passport Block, it can apply to participate in the Interstate Passport Network. Network members award the Passport to students who achieve the learning outcomes in all nine areas. Those students who then transfer with a Passport to another Network member institution will have their learning recognized and will not have to repeat coursework in the Interstate Passport’s nine areas to meet lower division general education requirements at the receiving institution.

Read the entire press release here.

Transfer News

WICHE Awarded Federal Grant to Expand Interstate Passport

Boulder, Colorado – The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been awarded a grant totaling $2.99 million from the U.S. Department of Education, Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, to scale and enhance the Interstate Passport – a new transfer framework that seeks to improve graduation rates, shorten time to degree, and save students money.

Download the full press release here -PDF Version

Transfer News

Department Awards $60 Million 17 Colleges and Universities

As part of the Obama Administration’s ambitious agenda to drive innovation and keep a higher education within reach for all Americans, the Education Department today awarded nearly $60 million to 17 colleges and universities in its First in the World (FITW) grant program. The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, one of 17 First in the World grant recipients, received a $2,999,482 grant for the Interstate Passport Initiative: Accelerating Transfer to a Credential.

Read the full Article from the Department of Education here.

Transfer News

WICHE Launches New Block Transfer Framework

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has just launched the Interstate Passport, a new block transfer framework based on learning outcomes, not courses and credit.

View Full Announcement Press Release – PDF Version

Transfer News

WICHE Awarded Grant to Improve Transfer Process

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) has been awarded a $550,000 grant from Carnegie Corporation of New York for a pilot project that will focus on the college transfer process.

View Full Press Release – PDF Version