The University of South Carolina Upstate has partnered with Greenville Technical College to establish a “reverse transfer agreement” that allows students who transfer from a two-year technical or community college to be awarded an associate degree by utilizing credits earned at USC Upstate.
The collaboration is the first of its kind in South Carolina, according to a news release from the two schools, and aims to promote economic growth and facilitate degree attainment for the region and state.
The National Student Clearinghouse will play a crucial role in identifying students who could benefit from the program, which is open to any technical college in the Palmetto State.
The reverse transfer agreement aligns with the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education’s Ascend Strategy, the news release said. This strategy is aimed at increasing the proportion of South Carolinians with high-quality postsecondary credentials to 60% by 2030. Bachelor’s degree attainment in the Upstate has fallen below 30%, making programs like this one more urgent, the release said.
“USC Upstate recognizes the importance of helping students attain a degree that can benefit them personally and professionally,” USC Upstate Chancellor Bennie L. Harris said in the release. “By allowing students who transferred without completing an associate degree from a technical college to attain the credential in their junior year of college, USC Upstate is empowering them with a sense of accomplishment and the confidence to complete their four-year degree.”
“We are so excited for our students,” said Donette Stewart, vice chancellor for enrollment services and director of admissions at USC Upstate, said in the release. “During the past five years, we’ve had more than 1,500 USC Upstate graduates who started their college journey at Greenville Technical College. By earning a high-level credential such as a two-year degree, students gain access to more competitive employment opportunities, which can significantly improve their own lives as well as the lives of their families.”
Michelle Blackwell, national manager of reverse transfer, emphasizes the positive impact of this collaborative effort on degree attainment.
“Research shows that students who earn degrees through reverse transfer are more likely to stay and complete their bachelor’s degrees,” she said in the release. “In states that have implemented similar programs, there has been a notable increase of 5-18% in bachelor’s degrees at four-year schools.”
The benefits of earning an associate degree through reverse transfer extend beyond the recognition of achievement. Graduates experience an increased potential for job opportunities and salary raises, according to the release. On average, completing an associate degree yields approximately $4,600 to $7,200 per annum in extra earnings compared to entering college but not completing a degree.
“USC Upstate and Greenville Technical College have had a long history of working together, and we continue to refine and grow that partnership for the benefit of our students and the state,” GTC President Keith Miller, said in the release. “It’s exciting to reach this milestone, but it’s only the beginning. I have no doubt that there are many more doors that this will open.”
“We know the success that South Carolina has had economically,” Miller added. “That means higher education has a growing responsibility to provide an educated and skilled workforce.”
About 20 students have already begun the reverse transfer process, according to GTC.
“This agreement shows that our students have a diversity of experience,” Larry Miller, vice president of learning and workforce development at GTC, said in the release. “They didn’t just go to a four-year university directly to earn their degree. They started at Greenville Technical College, were successful there, transferred, and established success at USC Upstate. I think that demonstrates a level of persistence on behalf of the student that employers are looking for.”
To be eligible for this reverse transfer degree, students must have attended GTC and earned a minimum of 60 credit hours at both institutions. At least 25% of those hours must have been earned at GTC. Students may contact Chris Satterfield, coordinator for GTC’s Planning and Transfer Headquarters, at [email protected] or 864-250-8393 to inquire about the evaluation process and eligibility criteria.g