Colleges earn new grant designed to ease transfers

Despite an increase in unit fees, the removal of hundreds of courses and other budget cuts, California’s higher education still ranks among the highest in the nation, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. And in late July, they received some good news in the form of a grant.

Thousands of community college students will be impacted by the National Complete College America Innovation Challenge grant, which was jointly rewarded to California Community Colleges and California State Universities, according to a press release on the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office website.

The $1 million will assist thousands of California’s community college students in reaching their transfer and career goals by rewarding them with an associate degree in high-volume majors while also raising awareness to both students and parents about the transfer process.

Complete College America, a national non-profit program focused on raising college completion rates, determined that California held a promising strategy in getting students through college.

“California’s innovative course and degree transfer plan promises to significantly boost college completion, saving students precious time and money and giving taxpayers more of what they expect from their hard-earned investments: college graduates,” said Complete College America President Stan Jones in a press release.

Jones invited all 50 governors to submit a written proposal for their plan to increase college graduation rates. Thirty three states entered the contest and California was one of 10 states to win a $1 million grant, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

“Gov. Jerry Brown should be congratulated for his efforts to secure this private funding,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “The grant award shows that California’s higher education systems continue to be innovative and lead the nation. With this award, our transfer degree program has received national recognition which validates that we are on the right path and confirms our model should be emulated by other states wanting to improve their graduation rates.”

Once students receive an associate degree, they will be given priority enrollment to a number of CSU’s that offer similar programs and will have to complete an additional 60 units to earn their bachelor’s degree.

Miriam Beloglovsky, professor of early care and education at Cosumnes River College, applauded the grant.

“I think it’s positive. Anything that can help propel students [into universities] will be beneficial to them,” Beloglovsky said. “But they also need a support system, in the form of tutoring and extra support, in order to deal with today’s life challenges.”