By Justin Metcalf, Staff Writer—
Eligible students can receive an associate’s degree through a free statewide initiative at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.
The Reverse Transfer Initiative awards students who transferred to four-year institutions from two-year colleges associate’s degrees, if they meet the degree requirements.
Students must have at least 15 credit hours upon entering UTC, and then earn at least 60 more credit hours to obtain their degree.
According to the Tennessee Reverse Transfer website, two-year institutions will upload students’ courses into the Reverse Transfer System (RTS) software and review the course equivalencies.
The four-year institutions, such as UTC, will then create an eligible students list and upload it into RTS.
Eligible students will receive an email notifying them of their eligibility from their four-year institution, and must then opt-in to Reverse Transfer.
Once they have opted-in, two-year institutions will share students’ transcripts with their four-year university and an audit will determine whether or not students receive their associates degree. By the end of the semester, two-year institutions will award students with their associate’s degree.
This fall semester, 1500 students qualify to receive an associates degree through the initiative.
Of the qualified students, 195 are freshmen who opted in when they applied to UTC, according to Interim Vice Provost Dr. Matt Matthews.
Matthews works with the Tennessee Articulation and Transfer Council who communicate with four-year universities about initiatives like Reverse Transfer, he said.
“I believe awarding students with a two-year degree gives them a push to keep going,” Matthews said. “It also allows students to get a job while they’re working on their four year degree because it shows potential employers that they are the type of person who can earn a degree.”
Although this program can benefit students, receiving an associates degree can affect students’ financial aid, so it is important for students to talk with their advisors and financial aid coordinators before moving forward, Matthews said.
Assistant Vice Chancellor for student success Stacie Grisham works with UTC’s advising council, who provide support and training for academic advisors.
Recently, the committee made it possible for advisors to identify which of their advisees received the email invitation to participate in Reverse Transfer, Grisham said.
“We think the Reverse Transfer Initiative is a great program to help students get the degree they have earned,” Grisham said. “Students may want or need to transfer early to UTC before completing their associate degree for a variety of reasons. This initiative helps them still get the degree at no additional cost.”
An associates degree can be added to students’ resumes and make them eligible for a raise if they are currently employed, Grisham said.
“We know that unexpected circumstances can come up in life which can make it challenging to complete college,” Grisham said. “Having a degree in hand is a constant reminder of how much has already been accomplished through hard work, and students can use it as an encouraging reminder that they will reach the goal ahead.”