NEBHE Advances Independent College Transfer Guarantee Initiative

By Emily Decatur

The New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) received a three-year implementation grant co-funded by the Teagle Foundation and the Davis Educational Foundation to develop systematic transfer pathways between community colleges and four-year independent colleges in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, with a focus on the liberal arts.

NEBHE is grateful for the continued support of the Teagle Foundation, which provided initial funding through a seven-month planning grant. NEBHE is also eager to collaborate with the Davis Educational Foundation—which was established by Stanton and Elisabeth Davis after Mr. Davis’ retirement as chairman of Shaw’s Supermarkets Inc.—to support the initiative’s foundational work.

NEBHE is partnering with the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities in Massachusetts and the Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Rhode Island to establish the New England Independent College Transfer Guarantee (Guarantee), which will ensure acceptance at an independent four-year institution for students graduating from a community college with an associate degree.

Students who meet eligibility criteria under the Guarantee will be able to transfer as juniors, with no credit loss, and be fully prepared to successfully complete a bachelor’s degree. The Guarantee promotes equity, opportunity and access in higher education.

“NEBHE is very pleased to work with this distinguished group of state and institutional partners to create expanded transfer pathways for students in New England,” said Michael K. Thomas, president & CEO of NEBHE, “Stronger links between our two-year institutions and our outstanding independent colleges and universities simply makes sense. The Guarantee will expand the range of high-quality, affordable bachelor’s degree programs available—benefiting our students, our institutions and our workforce. We are appreciative of the Teagle Foundation and the Davis Educational Foundation for their leadership and support in helping us to undertake this important endeavor.”

The planning phase of the Guarantee garnered overwhelming support for the initiative, with 73 institutions in the three states pledging their commitment to participate in the upcoming design phase. A list of all current participating institutions can be viewed here. Participation in the Guarantee is voluntary, and the design phase will be a collaborative effort among community colleges and independent institutions. Additional institutions are invited to join the design phase at any time.

The Guarantee will mitigate credit loss, increase persistence and degree completion, and meet geographic needs of students who lack proximity to a public four-year institution. It will support a student-centered approach to transfer by matching diverse student learning styles and providing high-caliber student support and career services, as well as institutional financial incentives. The initiative will bolster economic development by helping to retain students in their states after graduation.

Emily Decatur directs the New England Independent College Transfer Guarantee and can be reached at


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