New Online Tool Will Decrease Time to Degree

AUSTIN, Texas — With a $500,000 grant from Greater Texas Foundation, The University of Texas at Austin will develop a new online tool allowing students across Texas and the nation to better understand how to transfer college credits between institutions. The tool will help solve a frustrating challenge currently faced by many students, families and educators, allowing faster times to degree completion and saving money on tuition.

UT Austin is developing this pathbreaking project in partnership with community colleges and universities across Texas, as well as multiple national partners including the National Student Clearinghouse.

Transfer of college credit is the new normal for Texas students. Each year, about 160,000 Texas students take at least one college course in high school, and nearly 700,000 students enroll in the state’s community colleges. Yet students, families and counselors cannot easily access and compare information about whether and how the credits that students earn might transfer to their four-year college, program or major of choice.

This lack of easily accessible information results in lost credits, longer time to degree and substantial costs for students, their families and the state. When students are able to transfer 90 percent of their credits into a degree program, they are 2.5 times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree, according to recent research from the Community College Research Center, Public Agenda and The Aspen Institute.

The grant from Greater Texas Foundation will enable UT Austin and its partners to employ user-centered design to develop a digital tool called MapMyPath. This new tool will allow students, families and educators to understand at a glance whether and how their college credits might transfer and apply to multiple two- and four-year degree programs. The initiative will also provide new insights into the various challenges undergraduate students face when transferring course credits among institutions.

“Students and educators deserve to have clear, easily comparable information about the potential applicability of college courses and credits to undergraduate degree programs,” said Harrison Keller, principal investigator for the project and deputy to the president for strategy and policy at UT Austin. “With the generous support of Greater Texas Foundation, UT Austin and its partners will be able to create a new national model for credit mobility and transfer.”

“Greater Texas Foundation is pleased to support UT Austin in this effort to provide clarity around the transfer process for Texas students,” said Sue McMillin, president and CEO of Greater Texas Foundation. “Students benefit when institutions work together to clarify and simplify the process.”

“Our state goal is to have 60 percent of the population earning a degree by 2030. Establishing clear pathways for credit transfer will help ensure we achieve that goal and increase educational attainment,” said William Serrata, president of El Paso Community College. “The national data clearly shows education is the pathway to the middle class. The more you learn, the more you earn and the less likely you are to be unemployed, which makes this collaboration with support from Greater Texas Foundation so important.”

UT Austin will partner on this project with several leading institutions, organizations and initiatives. The project is being organized through Texas OnCourse, a nationally recognized, UT Austin-led initiative to improve college and career advising across Texas. Educate Texas will coordinate institutional partners committed to improving the student transfer experience through the initial MapMyPath pilot. The National Student Clearinghouse will develop a robust technological infrastructure that can be scaled and adopted nationwide, enabling institutions across the country to streamline students' pathways to postsecondary degrees and certificates.