Searching for Our Lost Associate’s Degrees: Project Win-Win at the Finish Line


TR Number



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Institute for Higher Education Policy


Project Win-Win recruited 61 associate’s degree-granting institutions in nine states—Florida, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, and Wisconsin—to (a) identify and find former students whose records qualified them for degrees but who never received those degrees, and retroactively award them their associate’s degrees, and (b) to identify and find former students whose records indicated that they were within striking distance of an associate’s award, and bring them back to school to complete the few credits they had left to qualify for the award. Each participating institution had two years to complete these tasks, and 60 of them did, to different degrees. In addition, four of these institutions took on a second project, a version of what contemporary discourse calls “reverse transfer,” an attempt to transfer back credits from a four-year college to the community college from which currently degree-less students had come. In each of the “Win-Win” versions of these credit reallocation efforts, only two institutions are involved: The community college and the principal four-year school to which its students transfer.



Community colleges, associate degrees, degree completion, graduation rates, educational attainment