Lipscomb University develops innovative tool to assist veterans, transfer students

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Lipscomb University’s Veterans Services Program has developed a new tool that will aid veterans and transfer students through funding provided by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Veteran Reconnect grant program.

The Lipscomb Transfer Platform is a self-service online tool that calculates the number of credits a veteran may receive based on an assessment of his or her prior learning and an evaluation of credits earned at other institutions. This tool allows veterans an opportunity to determine the number of credits they could receive at Lipscomb toward a degree prior to enrolling, and more importantly, which degree program makes the most effective use of their prior credits.  It is one of the first of its kind in the nation and the only one in Tennessee.

Chad Staggs“At Lipscomb University, we have a culture of continually identifying and developing new ways to better serve our students and to help them succeed,” said Chad Staggs, director of Veterans Services at Lipscomb. “This new tool allows veterans who are interested in attending Lipscomb to see an estimate of how much credit they’re going to receive for their military training, experience, or prior college transcripts before they fill out an application.”

“It’s a level of transparency that is a significant benefit to a veteran in helping them make the right college decision to help them achieve their educational goals,” he continued. “This tool also allows them the opportunity to explore on their own before ever contacting us.”  

Although the tool was designed with veteran students in mind, it may be used by anyone with prior learning considering transferring to or attending Lipscomb. The transparency the new platform offers is important, Staggs said.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 40 percent of transfer students across the nation lose all of the credit they have previously earned when they change institutions. Studies also indicate the more credits a student loses in the transfer process, the less likely they are to graduate.

“Having this information before a student enrolls at Lipscomb helps us to better serve our students,” said W. Craig Bledsoe, Lipscomb provost. “While we hope we are the best fit for our veterans and other transfer students, this information arms them with critical information that will help them in the decision-making process.”

Staggs said while military personnel are actively serving the country, many also work toward a college degree either by taking courses offered on military bases around the world or through online platforms. Additionally, many of these service members attend sophisticated training in a number of skills and academic disciplines.

When a veteran applies to a university, school officials must analyze the applicant’s military training courses to find possible college course equivalents for which to award credits. This is typically a time-consuming, manual process. The Lipscomb Transfer Platform automates a significant portion of that process. School officials may use this tool as well as those who are considering transferring or applying to Lipscomb through the university’s website.

The Lipscomb Transfer Platform allows a user to enter college courses, military training courses, and military occupational specialties into the system and receive a preliminary transfer audit that details how and where his or her credits could apply to any undergraduate degree program at Lipscomb.

“With a simple click of a mouse, the technology’s complex algorithms calculate in a matter of minutes how much of a veteran’s or transfer student’s credit and experience will apply to any of Lipscomb’s more than 150 degree programs,” said Sam Lynn, transfer credentials specialist-veterans at Lipscomb.

Lynn developed the platform in partnership with the National College Transfer Center.

“This new platform not only allows those who are interested in a Lipscomb education to research the number of credit hours they may start with before they ever apply, but it also helps us cutting down our administrative time evaluating a prospective student’s prior learning, allowing us to serve our students more quickly and efficiently,” he said.

The Lipscomb Transfer Platform may be found here. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for link.)

Campus generic students_large?Staggs said developing a platform for making prior learning evaluation more efficient for veterans is one way Lipscomb is trying to help the state of Tennessee meet its goal of helping more veterans complete their degrees and filling the need for a dynamic, college-educated workforce. It also plays into Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam’s Drive to 55 initiative to increase the number of adults age 25 and higher who have a degree to 55 percent.

“The Lipscomb Transfer Platform is already having an impact at Lipscomb,” said Staggs. “We hope that other institutions will be interested in the tool that we developed so that veterans and transfer students in Tennessee and across the country will have access to this information to help them make decisions about their future.”

About Lipscomb University’s Veterans Services Program

Currently, Lipscomb serves more than 243 students who have previously served or are currently serving in the armed forces. Last year, Lipscomb University became the first private university in Middle Tennessee to be designated a VETS Campus by the Tennessee Higher Education Commission. The VETS Campus designation is part of the Tennessee Veterans Education Transition Support (VETS) Act of 2014. Campuses that meet the requirements must prioritize outreach to veterans and create an environment in which veteran students have the resources to thrive. Specific requirements include annual surveys of veteran students, targeted orientation programs, and mentoring and support services developed specifically for students who are veterans. THEC administers the VETS Campus program and provides the designation to campuses that meet the requirements specified by the VETS Act.

In fall 2009, Lipscomb launched its veteran services program. For veterans who qualify for 100 percent of the Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits Lipscomb University has committed to allocate the necessary funds to allow them to earn an undergraduate degree through the Yellow Ribbon Enhancement Program. The university also offers qualifying student veterans a variety of graduate degree options.

Lipscomb’s program has also been recognized nationally for its quality. Military Advanced Education awarded Lipscomb the designation of a “Top Military-Friendly University” in its “2015 Guide to Military-Friendly Colleges & Universities.” Lipscomb University is consistently designated a Military-Friendly School by “GI Jobs.” In 2014, U.S. News also ranked Lipscomb as the second-best regional university in the South for veterans. The College of Business was ranked 24th in the nation in the Military Times’ 2013 Best for Vets: Business Schools Guide for veterans based on financial aid, academic policies and participation in the Yellow Ribbon Program.

Lipscomb’s program has also received grants from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Veteran Reconnect grant program for the past three years. In addition, a $25,000 Veterans Resource Center opened in November 2016, funded in part by the Sentinels of Freedom organization.

For more information about Lipscomb University’s veteran services program, call 615.966.1013 or visit veterans.lipscomb.edu.

About the National College Transfer Center

The National College Transfer Center is a nonprofit organization established in 2015 whose mission is to reduce the loss of credit in transfer and, as a direct result, increase graduation rates and reduce student debt and default among college students who are returning or transferring to new institutions.

The “Transfer Center’s” technology is also designed to assist institutions in making more informed admissions decisions; knowing how much of students’ transfer credit will be accepted adds another key data point to their admissions process. No factor is more important in predicting eventual graduation rates than the percentage of prior credits that students are able to transfer.

The Transfer Center’s technology has been in use and constant refinement since 1991, having served over 50,000 returning and transferring students for organizations such as the Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Motorola, IAM/Boeing, Colgate Palmolive, Northrop Grumman and other Fortune 1000 companies.

For media inquiries regarding NCTC, contact: Michael Falk, 202.904.4140 or Michael@learninglifetime.com .