How a Transfer Agreement is Bridging the Skills Gap for 14 CollegesElizabeth Bolden | President and CEO, Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges
Earlier this year, Pennsylvania’s community colleges finalized a statewide articulation agreement with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU). The historic agreement provides current and future Pennsylvania community college graduates the opportunity to seamlessly transfer to SNHU and complete their postsecondary study.
Under the agreement, students from all 14 Pennsylvania community colleges will be able to transfer up to 90 credits to SNHU and complete their bachelor’s degree online. Pennsylvania community college alumni also will receive a 10% tuition reduction. Of the 90 credits that may be transferred toward an online bachelor’s degree with SNHU, applicable military training is considered.
The agreement also applies to employees and their immediate family members from all Pennsylvania community colleges and their immediate family members. The agreement can help Pennsylvania achieve its attainment goal of 60% of Pennsylvanians aged 25-64 with a postsecondary degree or industry-recognized credential by 2025.
The academic preparation, success and focus of Pennsylvania’s community college students are appealing to many national higher education institutions as they seek to grow their enrollments with high-performing students. Recent research from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation indicates that community college transfer students were more likely to graduate in six years than students transferring from four-year institutions or enrolling from high school.
Significant numbers of Pennsylvania’s community college students pursue a transfer and attainment of a baccalaureate degree. Each year, over 30,000 Pennsylvania community college students transfer; nearly 85 percent of those transfers are to institutions within Pennsylvania.
The many articulation agreements already in place with higher education partners help our students realize their postsecondary goals. The agreement with SNHU provides transfer students the opportunity to pursue an online bachelor’s degree at a more affordable rate than nearly every other public option in Pennsylvania, depending on the student’s program of study and credit load.
SNHU is already a popular transfer destination for Pennsylvania’s community college students, with over 1,500 community college students currently enrolled. Nearly 500 Pennsylvania community college students transferred to SNHU in the 2018–2019 academic year, and SNHU awarded 166 Pennsylvania community college graduates a bachelor’s degree last year. Currently enrolled transfer students from Pennsylvania community colleges are eligible for the 10% tuition reduction, like Sarah Polachek, who recently graduated from the Community College of Allegheny County and is now enrolled at SNHU.
In an article recently published by the commission, Ms. Polachek relayed that she saves approximately $100 a month with the 10% tuition reduction she received by transferring to SNHU. She accurately highlighted that the monthly savings equate about the cost of a textbook.
Under the terms of the articulation agreement, new community college transfer applicants also receive a waiver of SNHU’s standard application fee. Currently, the partnership between Pennsylvania’s community colleges and SNHU represents the only statewide articulation agreement of its kind in the Commonwealth.
The agreement with SNHU provides Pennsylvania community college graduates another choice to pursue a bachelor’s degree–and that choice is available to every community college graduate in the Commonwealth, regardless of community college attended. The agreement’s simplicity, ease and price point will provide students with another high-quality, flexible and affordable transfer pathway to attain a bachelor’s degree. The agreement will be particularly helpful for community college students who are place-bound, juggling work in addition to college or simply need the flexible schedule that SNHU provides.
The commission and its member colleges regularly receive inquiries from higher education institutions seeking to establish formal transfer partnerships. Each proposal is thoroughly reviewed to determine if it is consistent with the community college mission and to ensure that it offers accredited educational opportunities for students. As institutions of public higher education, the colleges will continue to pursue transfer and articulation agreements that provide students with opportunities to meet their postsecondary education goals.
The statewide articulation agreement between Pennsylvania’s community colleges and SNHU provides current and future community college graduates in the Commonwealth the opportunity to seamlessly transfer and complete their postsecondary studies. It offers one more way for our students to find the right path for them and achieve their academic goals.