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Dina Horwedel, Director of Public Education, American Indian College Fund

Colleen R. Billiot, Public Education Coordinator, American Indian College Fund

American Indian College Fund Develops Transfer Data Guidebook for TCUs

All-inclusive resource offers tips and recommendations for data building

May 23, 2024, Denver, Colo.— The American Indian College Fund (College Fund) has published a “Transfer Data Guidebook for Tribal Colleges and Universities.” The guidebook is the culmination of three years of research conducted under a $625,000 grant from the Educational Credit Management Corporation, which examined the transfer landscape of the seven Montana tribal colleges and universities (TCUs) to improve student achievement by creating a cohesive transfer system. Students receive a supported educational pathway from certificate to baccalaureate degrees to successfully transfer across the Montana TCU institutions for on-time degree completion. This new guide provides information pertinent for TCUs hoping to improve their student transfer data and processes.

With nearly 40% of all college students transferring at least once in their academic career, they are a critical yet often overlooked segment of the educational landscape. The most common transfer path for students is from a two-year college to a four-year institution, and many transfer students are first-generation and students of color. Unfortunately, studies have shown the majority of transfer students lose approximately 37% of their college credits when transferring. These factors are particularly important for TCUs, many of whom predominantly offer associate degrees to communities largely comprised of Native and first-generation students.

The guidebook assists TCUs by providing a basic understanding of transfer processes and supporting the development of transfer data practices. From software and security to transfer agreements and advising, the guide covers every aspect of creating transfer pathways. Utilizing a transfer data system can not only improve support of students transitioning to another institution but can also offer analytical insights that colleges can use to further streamline transfer processes.

This guidebook was made possible due to the cooperation between the College Fund and the Montana TCUs who participated in surveys, shared data, and provided a general understanding of the transfer landscape and programming necessities to help transfer students succeed. The collaboration led to the involved TCUs establishing 14 articulation agreements and the creation of a universal policy to support students, prevent credit loss, and assist with on-time graduation despite transfer. These achievements are examples of what the College Fund hopes the guidebook will help other TCUs accomplish.

Vice President of Research, Evaluation, and Faculty Development at the College Fund, David Sanders, said, “The Transfer Data Guidebook, developed in collaboration with the seven Montana TCUs and TCU Institutional Research, staff provides a comprehensive look at how TCUs might approach supporting transfer students both in and out of their institutions. It is the culmination of three years’ effort to develop transfer supports across Montana TCUs and highlights among other important areas to consider including articulation agreements, data for determining success support structures, systems infrastructure, etc. As such, the Transfer Data Guidebook is an invaluable resource for TCUs to utilize as they develop crucial services to support their students’ mobility.”

Sandra Boham, President of Salish Kootenai College, added, “For Tribal College students, who represent a large contingent of first generation, non-traditional, single parent, PELL eligible populations, a clear pathway for transfer is crucial. If they do not have a clear roadmap for transfer, they oftentimes find themselves in their final term of their academic program, very close to graduation and do not have the financial resources to complete their programs.” The guide is available for download at TCUs can also request a hard copy from the College Fund by emailing Crystal Hedgepeth at

About the American Indian College Fund The American Indian College Fund has been the nation’s largest charity supporting Native higher education for 34 years. The College Fund believes “Education is the answer” and provided $17.4 million in scholarships and other direct student support to American Indian students in 2022-23. Since its founding in 1989 the College Fund has provided more than $319 million in scholarships, programs, community, and tribal college support. The College Fund also supports a variety of academic and support programs at the nation’s 35 accredited tribal colleges and universities, which are located on or near Indian reservations, ensuring students have the tools to graduate and succeed in their careers. The College Fund consistently receives top ratings from independent charity evaluators and is one of the nation’s top 100 charities named to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance. For more information about the American Indian College Fund, please visit

JournalistsThe American Indian College Fund does not use the acronym AICF. On second reference, please use the College Fund.

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