Thursday, Jun 20, 2013
Colleges Announce New Way for Students to Earn Course Credits
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LITTLE ROCK - There are some Arkansas students who have completed the relevant course work for a certificate from a two-year college, but they have never received recognition for their achievement because they transferred from one institution to another in the middle of their college career.
Higher education officials announced an initiative called "Credit When It's Due" that will award those students with their certificates from one of the 22 two-year colleges in Arkansas.
Many students start college at a two-year institution and then transfer to a four-year institution with the intention of earning a baccalaureate degree. About 45 percent of them don't ever finish the required course work for a degree from the four-year school, but in the process of studying for a degree they complete 60 hours that count towards an associate's degree.
Had they stayed at the two-year college those hours would have been enough to qualify them for a certificate, but because their credit hours are divided between two separate campuses it appears on their official transcripts and on their job applications as if they only finished high school. The lack of a certificate can keep them from getting jobs and if they have a job it can keep them from advancing and earning more income.
Under the "Credit When It's Due" initiative, the Arkansas Research Center at Conway will gather grades and other information from students' records. The Center will notify two-year colleges of students who transferred and completed sufficient course work at a four-year university. Those students will receive the degree for which their credits qualify them. In colleges and universities the process is often called a "reverse transfer."
The first stage of the initiative is for students who transferred from a two-year college in the fall of 2008 and subsequently finished enough credit hours at a four-year campus to have earned an associate's degree. Over time the initiative will expand to make more students eligible.
Research shows that people who have completed even a few college courses generally earn more money in their careers than people who have only finished high school, but people who have earned an associate's degree earn even more money.
Elected officials and policy makers in Arkansas are working to help more students earn their degrees because it boosts economic prosperity to have an educated workforce.
The 11 publicly funded four-year universities in Arkansas are participating, according to the announcement by the state Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges.
Shortfall in Specialized Scholarships
The legislature has already begun work on an issue expected that may need to be resolved during the 2014 fiscal session - a projected shortfall in funding of specialized scholarships. The recipients include children of law enforcement officers, students at historically black colleges and universities, students training to be teachers in areas where there is a teacher shortage and older students.
At this time it appears that about $5.5 million will be needed to avoid reductions in the number of scholarships awarded in the 2014-2015 school year. That number may change.