Degree reclamation — a combination of evidence-based and equity-focused strategies— helps institutions reengage the some-college, no degree population, provide these students with targeted supports to aid in their completion of degrees, and award degrees when sufficient credits are earned.

Each year, millions of Americans decide to pursue a college education to broaden their skill sets, boost their earning potential, and transform their life circumstances. For many students, the path to a college degree is not linear. Students may face a variety of academic and non-academic barriers during their collegiate career, including barriers at the individual, institutional, state, and federal levels. Students may encounter personal challenges like financial hardships and family obligations, and institutional challenges like financial holds that prevent reenrollment and unknown graduation processes that leave degrees unawarded. Ultimately, almost one in five students leaves college empty handed after investing precious time and valuable resources.

Degree reclamation strategies equip campus staff with the skills to document, evaluate, and adjust institutional policy and practice to improve procedural efficiencies, increase completion, and identify and close equity gaps. This playbook offers clear steps for implementing two proven degree reclamation strategies: adult reengagement and reverse transfer.

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As a technical assistance partner to Talent Hubs, the Institute for Higher Education Policy supported several Talent Hub institutions in establishing new, effective policies and practices that best support students to re-enroll and complete their credential.  This playbook provides practical tools and advice based on over a decade of experience, including:

  • Building campus teams to address degree reclamation
  • Building an equity framework using analytical tools
  • Inventory of institutional policies and practices
  • Data methods
  • Transcript sharing and student consent procedures
  • Auditing degrees with a degree mining tool
  • Communications with “near-completers”
  • Re-enrolling “near-completers” through adult reengagement
  • Conferring degrees
  • Sustainable strategies


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