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House of Representatives
Session of 2023 - 2024 Regular Session


Posted: March 21, 2023 04:12 PM
From: Representative Emily Kinkead and Rep. MaryLouise Isaacson
To: All House members
Subject: A Degree with a Guarantee – Transferring from Community College to PASSHE
As the cost of higher education continues to rise across the country, more and more students are deciding to start at a community college before transferring to complete a 4-year degree. Each year, roughly 30,000 Pennsylvania community college students transfer to a 4-year university, with 85% staying in state. But more and more, our community college students are finding it easier to transfer to out-of-state universities in order to have all of their credits recognized and transfer with full junior level standing. And with declining enrollment in institutions across our Commonwealth, we must do more to encourage students to pursue further education in-state and retain their talents here.
As we work to cut student loan burdens and recruit and retain students in Pennsylvania, one of the best ways to do this is to streamline credit transfers from community colleges for those who have completed their Associate’s degrees. The Center for College Affordability and Productivity lists “Encourage More Students to Attend Community College” as its No. 1 recommendation to reduce the cost of college. The benefits community colleges offer to the student are numerous and range from cost savings to scheduling flexibility, while public benefits include fewer tax dollars spent per student and positive externalities for local economies. Community colleges provide an alternative to those who wish to continue their education at a lower cost, with fewer entry requirements, and often with a higher level of convenience, while reducing the mounting costs to the taxpayer.
With that said, we still have more work to do. In order to increase the number of transfer students who are able to complete a Bachelor’s degree in a timely manner and without additional, unnecessary expense, we are introducing legislation that will guarantee admission into the PASSHE system with junior standing to all Pennsylvania community college students who earn an Associate’s degree from a Council for Higher Education (CHEA)-accredited college or university.
Under this legislation, which codifies PASSHE’s newly adopted articulation policy, students will be awarded full junior standing and shall not be required to satisfactorily complete more than 60 credits to earn a 120-credit Bachelor’s degree in a P2P or other parallel program, regardless of the courses they took to earn the Associate’s degree. The students will have the same requirements for admission to a particular academic program and for retention as students who began their education at a State System University. Students transferring into a program with accreditation or licensing/certification standards may be required to take limited additional credits to meet those standards. Community college credits earned towards an Associate’s degree will be applied to the student’s General Education requirements at the four-year anniversary, with possible exceptions for advanced courses within the major that doubled as General Education overlays at the community college.
Too often, the journey from community college to 4-year degree is convoluted and expensive in a way that discourages students from completing school. Codifying this policy would guarantee a clear, affordable pathway for all students and send a strong message: if you work hard, you will be able to earn a degree and graduate without crippling student debt. Please join Representative Isaacson and I in co-sponsoring this effort which will improve access to cost-effective higher education across Pennsylvania.
A prior version of this bill (which has since been updated to reflect the realities of the community college and PASSHE systems) was previously introduced as HB 705 in 2021-2022 and as HB 2447 in the 2019-2020. The following Members were 2021-2022 co-sponsors: Deasy, Delloso, Freeman, Galloway, Guzman, Hill-Evana, Hohenstein, Kinsey, Madden, Neilson, N. Nelson, Parker, Rozzi, Sanchez, Schweyer, Shusterman, Sturla, Webster, Zabel, Warren, Ciresi, Conklin, and Pisciottano.

Introduced as HB897