Higher education leaders hope the successful completion of a pilot project puts Missouri in a position of having sixty percent of its working-age residents with college degrees.

The Department of Higher Education thinks a little more than forty percent of Missouri workers have degrees from community colleges or from four-year institutions. The Department wants to increase that by half in about a decade.

A big part of meeting that goal might lie in the “reverse transfer” program.  The department is satisfied enough with a pilot project involving a dozen schools to make it a statewide program.  About fifty students have gotten their community college degrees under the pilot project.

Any student who gets at least fifteen credit hours at a community college and then transfers to a four-year school can apply credits at the four year institution toward completion of an associate degree from the community college, a certificate that becomes especially important if a student can’t finish the four-year degree.

Assistant Commissioner Rusty Monhollon says they’re working on making the program retroactive. “About 750,000 Missourians have some college credit but no degree,” he says. “If we can even capture a small percentage of that number and help them get degrees,  it could make a big difference in their lives and in the state’s economy as well.”

He says there’s no timetable for that program expansion; the biggest problem will be with community colleges locating old records of former students.

As it is, he says, no other state has developed as extensive a reverse transfer program as Missouri has.

AUDIO: Monhollon interview 10:17