- North Idaho College is the latest institution to join the Interstate Passport Network, a coalition of two- and four-year institutions which allow for block-transfer of credits between other member schools.
- Boasting 25 schools spread throughout 9 states, the network allows the transfer of lower-division general education credits based on learning outcomes instead of specific courses taken and passed.
- The network claims to be a system of support for 40% of community college students who will transfer to different schools, according to a 2015 report from the National Student Clearinghouse.
One of the features of the Interstate Passport Network is that faculty members are the gatekeepers to determining students' level of proficiency through earned grades. This type of collaboration between institutions is intended to provide smoother pathways to graduation for students who need to transfer for any number of reasons. At present, students are often dissuaded from transferring by the prospect of losing credits, and schools work to convince students not to transfer in order to avoid the negative impact on graduation rates. But the Interstate Network allows students to avoid the individual setbacks usually presented by changing schools.
However, institutional consequences remain. Campuses may have to work harder to meet students' needs and accommodate their desires beyond providing an ideal atmosphere and convenience for financial and personal obstacles to pursuing a degree. This could drive costs for retention offices, change priorities for student and academic affairs divisions, and create more of an emphasis on keeping students satisfied, rather than ensuring they are educated. However, with proposals in Congress and the U.S. Department of Education to consider total enrollment for graduation numbers, rather than just first-time, full-time student persistence — a change which is better reflective of today's higher education climate — some of these concerns could be absolved.