Washington, D.C. – According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly half of employed college graduates across the country are in jobs that require less than a four-year college education. For many young people seeking a job, an Associate’s degree is the most affordable and accessible vehicle to higher paying employment opportunities.
Each year, thousands of community college students who haven’t yet received a degree transfer to four-year institutions. If these students leave the university before graduation for any number of reasons – to start a job, care for family, serve in the military, or because they could no longer afford the cost – they are left with nothing to show for their hard work. Without a degree, these individuals are less likely to secure employment and earn less over their lifetime than their peers.
In an effort to address the shortcomings that bar four-year and two-year institutions from accepting each other’s transfer credit, U.S. Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced The Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements to Empower (CREATE) Graduates Act. This legislation will help young people receive the degrees that they have already earned by creating incentives for institutions of higher education to establish “reverse transfer” programs, or initiatives to transfer back credits from a four-year institution to the community college where a student without a degree was initially enrolled. It will also make it easier for colleges and universities to share educational records for the limited purpose of awarding degrees.
“A college degree can increase earning potential and position students to succeed in today’s economy,” said Senator Casey. “But, in order to realize these benefits students must complete their studies and earn their degree. Too many students have done all the work, but never earn the degree. This legislation will help students transfer back to the community college where they were initially enrolled so they can receive the degree that will lead increased opportunities.”
“If a student has earned the credits required for an associate’s degree, they should be able to obtain it, period. Our bill will encourage institutions of higher education to make common sense changes that will give students who have worked hard to earn their associate’s degree the chance to actually receive it, and succeed in today’s economy,” said Senator Booker.
“When students have put in the work toward a degree, community colleges and four-year institutions should work together to make that a reality,” Senator Kaine said. “The CREATE Graduates Act will make it easier for these students to get their associate’s degree at a community college so they can enter the job market better prepared to compete in today’s economy and earn higher wages.”
Specifically, the CREATE Graduates Act will increase degree attainment by competitively awarding grants to states to:
- Locate and award degrees to students who have accumulated enough credits to earn an associate’s degree but have not received one.
- Provide outreach to students within 12 credits of obtaining an associate’s degree.
- Implement procedures to help future students receive degree audits and other important information about graduation requirements.