Press Release

December 9, 2021
Cardin, Casey, Booker, Kaine Introduce Bill to Empower Community College Students

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 100 occupations only require an associate degree or postsecondary non-degree credential

CREATE Graduates Act will remove barriers for community college students who transferred to a four-year college to earn an associate degree

WASHINGTON U.S. Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Tim Kaine (D-Va.) today introduced the Correctly Recognizing Educational Achievements (CREATE) Graduates Act, which would help community college students who transferred receive their associate degree by transferring their earned credits back to their community college, a process known as “reverse transfer.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, nearly 100 occupations only require an associate degree or postsecondary non-degree credential. The CREATE Graduates Act will help students achieve greater economic security and access more employment opportunities.

“A college degree can significantly increase economic opportunities for workers, and we must recognize the college credits and skills gained by those who worked towards but did not earn a four-year undergraduate degree,” said Senator Cardin. “The CREATE Graduates Act would break down administrative barriers and accelerate Maryland’s existing work to enhance reverse transfer agreements for Maryland students and provide them with the associate’s degree they have earned.”

“In today’s economy, an associate degree can help graduates compete for jobs, earn higher wages and build brighter futures,” said Senator Casey. “Too many students have done all the work, but through no fault of their own, never earn the degree. The CREATE Graduates Act recognizes the accomplishments of hardworking Americans by allowing them to receive their associate degrees and gain access to more employment and economic opportunities.”

“As occupations increasingly require people to possess a higher-education degree, our nation must take steps to ensure that workers have the qualifications and skills necessary to thrive in this job market,” said Senator Booker. “Currently, thousands of students have successfully completed the requirements of an associate degree but have not yet received one. This legislation will identify and assist these students in obtaining their rightfully earned credentials, helping them secure employment and succeed in their future careers.”

“The success of our economic recovery will depend on our ability to help people access the education and skills they need to thrive in the workforce,” said Senator Kaine. “By making it easier for students to receive an associate degree, this legislation helps them prepare for good-paying, in-demand jobs as we continue to build back better.”

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. The CREATE Graduates Act awards competitive grants to states to help institutions identify students who have already completed the credit requirements for an associate degree or could do so within a short time.

The bill would encourage higher education institutions to establish “reverse transfer” programs, initiatives to transfer back credits from a four-year institution to the community college where a student was initially enrolled. It would also help colleges and universities proactively provide outreach and information on the next steps to complete their degree.