Case Study

Reverse Transfer

Reverse Transfer logo

Automating Reverse Transfer Processes in the State of Tennessee

  • PublishedJuly 18th 2023
  • ServicesSoftware Development
  • IndustryHigher Education

At the recommendation of the legislature, a statewide higher education taskforce was formed to develop and implement reverse transfer policies across Tennessee. After much collaboration, the taskforce determined the most feasible way to implement reverse transfer processes statewide would be through a centralized, automated software system. Although they had the technical resources across the state to write the software in-house, Tennessee realized that those people had full-time jobs doing other things that would take a higher priority. It was decided partnering with AcademyOne to develop and implement our AwardED™ reverse transfer system was a perfect solution.
The Story of Reverse Transfer in Tennessee

Like other states in 2010, Tennessee was looking for ways to improve degree completion rates across their institutions of higher education. The College Completion Act was passed, and conversations began about reverse transfer as another route to a college degree especially for early community college transfer students.

The reverse transfer initiative became part of the governor’s larger “Drive to 55” campaign to raise the number of residents in the state with a postsecondary credential from 32% to 55% by the year 2025. A taskforce comprised of members from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission, The Tennessee Board of Regents, the Tennessee Independent Colleges and Universities Association, and the University of Tennessee System began work on outlining guidelines and making policy decisions. When funding for the project was provided by the state through an appropriation and a Credit When It’s Due grant administered by the Lumina Foundation, they began looking for a software vendor to partner with and develop a product that would meet all their needs.

The Challenge Tennessee Faced Before Implementing AwardED™

The Tennessee taskforce came to understand early on the obstacles they would face with a large statewide implementation of a project with so many moving parts. The challenges included getting student opt-in and consent to share their academic records between institutions, exchanging data on a large scale across multiple student information systems, and limiting the amount of manual and repetitive tasks that would burden their institutional administrators, faculty, and staff.

Why Tennessee Chose AwardED™

The state issued a competitive RFP and selected AcademyOne as their vendor of choice to develop the software and run some pilot testing then implement it on a statewide scale. When deciding what they might need, it was very important that the software would work with more than one student information system and be very low maintenance. It was also imperative that the software would facilitate the exchange of data and run a multitude of simulated degree audits with speed and efficiency.

The Reverse Transfer System Workflow
Student Identification

The system queries the databases of participating four-year institutions to id eligible students based on agreed upon criteria and uploads them.

Consent and FERPA Compliance

The system emails eligible students to request opt-in and consent to the sharing of their two-year and four-year academic records.

Transcript Exchange

The system allows for the upload of course histories of consenting students from both two-year and four-year institutions.

Degree Audit

The system runs simulated audits coinciding with their Spring and Fall award dates on all consenting students. Academic course histories are plotted against degree requirements that are built and maintained in the system with AcademyOne’s TransferCheck software to facilitate the mapping of course equivalencies.

Degree Conferral & Advising

The system provides the degree granting institution a list of students who have met the requirements to be conferred an associate degree and near-completers who are close to further advise them and keep them in the cycle.

The Reverse Transfer initiative is a definite ‘win-win.’ Students may not be aware that credits earned after transfer from a two-year college can help round out their associate degree requirements. For transfer students, a reverse degree award provides a well-deserved stamp of accomplishment and appears to be a motivating factor to finish the 4-year degree. On the institutional side, both community colleges and 4-year universities stand to benefit from the impact of this initiative on graduation rates, measures that feed into the state funding formula and national rankings.

Dr. India Lane, University of Tennessee Associate Dean of Academic and Student Affairs
Proven Results

Tennessee’s implementation of AwardED™ has benefited everyone involved and provided a substantial return on their investment. Our automated workflow software helps the institutions streamline their reverse transfer procedures, reduce manual and repetitive workload, and ultimately contribute to higher degree completion rates.

Tennessee Reverse Transfer Outcomes Spring 2015 – Fall 2022


eligible students identified


student opt-ins


opt-in rate


degrees awarded


hours saved through automation


saved through automation

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