SUNY Receives $500,000 Grant For Reverse Transfer, Degree Planning Services

October 10, 2012

Albany – State University of New York Chancellor Nancy L. Zimpher today announced that SUNY has received a $500,000 grant from Lumina Foundation to enhance student mobility within the system by facilitating “reverse transfer” and installing state-of-the-art software at all campuses that will help students and advisers with degree planning.

The project will identify and enable students currently enrolled at one of SUNY’s four-year institutions who had previously transferred from a community college without completing their associate’s degree to “reverse-transfer” their credits back to the community college and be awarded the associate’s degree from the sending campus. 

“We are deeply grateful to Lumina Foundation for its support of this important, ground-breaking initiative,” said Chancellor Zimpher. “This project will give our students greater transfer opportunities within SUNY and dramatically enhance degree planning services across our 64 campuses, increasing completion rates and ensuring that students are equipped with the knowledge, tools, and advisement they need to graduate on time.”

The Lumina grant, Credit When It’s Due: Recognizing the Value of Quality Associate Degrees, was established to encourage state education systems to explore and implement consistent approaches to awarding reverse transfer associate degrees.

“There are many important lessons to be learned by conducting research on the data to be collected through the work of these states. The capacity of most projects, like that of New York’s, to include community colleges and public universities statewide – makes this a unique and major push to fully engage transfer associate degrees as a key strategy within a state’s degree completion goal,” said Holly Zanville, program director at Lumina Foundation, heading up the “Credit When It’s Due” work.

The project will enable SUNY campuses to implement DegreeWorks, a state-of-the-art software tool that has the ability to perform a degree audit that compares course and general education history to the degree requirements for the transfer path programs at all campuses, conduct a “what if” degree analysis for up to three campuses simultaneously, and access the course offerings at all campuses.

In order to become compliant with the DegreeWorks software, SUNY will hire a reverse transfer coordinator to assist the community colleges with training and technical support; allocate funds to support on-campus staff as necessary; facilitate the sharing of course catalogs among colleges; and develop a common database of course equivalencies.

Existing SUNY and DegreeWorks data will be used to identify students who are matriculated at four-year SUNY colleges and have transferred from a SUNY community college without first obtaining an associate degree. Each community college will then determine if the student has met all the campus graduation requirements for the associate’s degree. If the student has met the requirements, the campus can award the degree. If they have not, the campus can contact the student to outline the additional steps necessary to obtain the degree.

Nearly 10,000 students traditionally transfer from SUNY community colleges to four-year institutions within the system each year. Of them, approximately 59 percent transfer before receiving associate degree. In addition, approximately 11,000 students transfer each year to community colleges from other SUNY community colleges or 4-year institutions, 96 percent of whom transfer without the associate degree.

As a result of the project, SUNY aims to award associate degrees to 5 percent of students who transfer vertically from community colleges to four year colleges, and offer another 35 percent of students an opportunity to complete their degree.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, with 64 college and university campuses located within 30 miles of every home, school, and business in the state. As of Fall 2018, more than 424,000 students were enrolled in a degree program at a SUNY campus. In total, SUNY served 1.4 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs in the 2017-18 academic year. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Its students and faculty make significant contributions to research and discovery, contributing to a $1.6 billion research portfolio. There are 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit

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