Higher Education Associations Release Updated Statement of Principles on Transfer and Award of Credit
December 15, 2021

​​​​​The statement, last published in 2017 by AACRAO, ACE, and CHEA, has been updated to better reflect​ changes in the field and to provide an important tool to campus practitioners to help make a degree more affordable, increase equity, and spur student success. 

Three higher education associations today released an updated Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit, a guide for expert practitioners to ensure their institutions possess sound, equity-minded policies and practices for the award of credit that best meet the needs of today’s students and the challenges they face. It calls on institutions to conduct a “self-audit” to remove any impediments that prevent the timely and appropriate awarding of credit for learning already acquired and ensure they are putting students’ needs first. 

The Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit has served for more than 20 years as the principal statement of the higher education community for what constitutes sound policies and practices regarding the award of credit for prior learning acquired at another institution or in an extra-institutional context. Originally released in 2001, the Joint Statement was developed by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO), the American Council on Education (ACE), and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). These three founding associations have joined together again to author this latest edition.  

The 2021 Joint Statement sets forth the fundamental tenets underlying the decision of how and when to award credit for learning acquired elsewhere. In addition to outlining these core tenets, which remain central and unchanged from prior versions, the Joint Statement has been updated to better align with and reflect the significant changes occurring in the field, the impact the pandemic has had on accelerating these changes, and the increasing number of students relying on non-linear pathways to and through higher education.  

In an effort to increase its usefulness, the Joint Statement now organizes its guidance around seven key considerations to help practitioners evaluate their own campus policies and practices and ensure credit award policies support these students. It encourages every institution to conduct a self-audit of its policies and practices to determine whether there are areas for improvement to better serve students. It also includes new guidance for institutions advising them to remove unnecessary obstacles, such as small unpaid bills and other institutional charges that prevent students from accessing their transcripts.

Click here to read the full statement and principles.

The goal of the updated statement is to provide a roadmap for expert practitioners, including registrars, senior enrollment managers, and accrediting bodies to ensure that they have sound policies and practices guiding the award of credit on their campus. 

“Today’s learners are increasingly mobile and the array of quality learning opportunities available to them necessitates rethinking traditional transfer policies and practices. The percent of learners carrying prior credit is no longer marginal. Transfer has become mainstream, and it's time to treat it as such,” said Melanie Gottlieb, interim executive director of AACRAO. “To truly support student access to and success in meaningful credentials, the higher education community must pursue a consistent, transparent and equitable approach to the application of credit towards a degree. Our association is ready to support our institutional colleagues with tools and resources to that end.” 

“By reimagining transfer to work better for students, higher education leaders can help remove barriers to students' success and reaffirm higher education's value as an engine of social mobility and justice,” said ACE President Ted Mitchell. “The update of this statement is one more tool to help colleges and universities in their efforts to improve credit award policies on their campuses. By conducting careful and in-depth self-study of their own transfer credit practices, institutions can ensure that their policies are truly putting students’ needs first.” 

"Higher education has seen a significant change in the contemporary student, how students attend college and how higher education is provided,” said Cynthia Jackson-Hammond, president of CHEA. “These changes can have a significant impact on students and the opportunity for credit award, including transferring credits. It is imperative that institutions make the transfer of credits as inclusive, efficient, and effective as possible for those students who have had courses or educational experiences comparable to those offered by the receiving institution. Sound credit award and transfer policy and practice and maintaining institutional and accrediting standards demonstrates higher education’s commitment to students and to equity for all."

This latest revision of the Joint Statement was undertaken as part of the follow up to the efforts of the ACE Task Force on the Transfer and Award of Credit​​​​. The Task Force’s final report offered concrete recommendations and best practices to higher education leaders on how to modify existing transfer and award of credit practices to best support student success. This update helps ensure that the guidance in the Joint Statement is aligned with the Task Force’s recommendations and reflects the latest thinking in the field. 

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The Joint Statement on the Transfer and Award of Credit (2021)

This statement, developed by AACRAO, ACE, and CHEA, sets forth for colleges and universities the principles and key considerations that should serve as the foundation for sound, equity-minded institutional policies and practices for the award of credit.