Submitted On: Monday, March 6, 2017
Analyst: McLean, Terry
Greetings from the Tar Heel State, North Carolina.
Legislation that has passed in previous years has opened the door for North Carolina students who want to go to college. Establishment of dual enrollment with high school and college studies in 2004 offered students a chance to attend college with little cost to the students and their families. The chance to earn college credits and fast track to an associate’s degree grew again under University of North Carolina Board of Governor’s Policy 400.6 Early College High Schools on UNC Campuses. As an adjunct early college professor, I see the benefits of partnerships between high schools and community colleges when preparing the students for the next step in either university studies or in the workforce.
A step to increase college completers is the Reverse Transfer Option made possible with a grant from USA funds, in conjunction with Lumina, Kresge, Helios Education, and Bill and Melinda Gates foundations. This is another collaborative effort between North Carolina's Community Colleges and the University of North Carolina's 16 constituent institutions. This program gives students a chance to get an associate’s degree even if they have transferred to university studies before completion of the requirements for their associate’s degree. Transferring up to 16 credits back to the community college from university studies to get their associate’s degree increases completion rates, but it also offers a motivational tool to support students’ endeavors to their university degrees.
In addition to these programs, currently, there is pending legislation, House Bill 132, High Achieving Tuition Scholarships. When this bill is passed, there will be a direct impact on the students that will offer more financial incentives to those who qualify to continue in community colleges. The indirect impact of this bill is for faculty in the 58 community colleges throughout the state for possibly more teaching opportunities.
In addition to this possible financial boost for students, Western Carolina University, UNC Pembroke, and Elizabeth City State University are part of the NC Promise Tuition Plan. In 2018, this plan will hold the tuition costs for undergraduates to 500 dollars per semester at these three universities. http://news-prod.wcu.edu/2016/07/wcu-among-three-unc-institutions-selected-for-nc-promise-tuition-plan/
As instructors in higher education, we see the students start in post-secondary education, but drop out because of financial worries or the seemingly impossible task of taking classes to get that important diploma. A partnership between K-12, community colleges, and universities, coupled with adequate funding from the legislature gives North Carolina a competitive economic edge when they can provide a skilled workforce to meet the challenges of the 21st-century workplace.