A project funded by a national grant is helping Arizona students obtain degrees faster and cheaper by linking community colleges to four-year universities.
The Getting Access to Higher Education And Degree project, or AHEAD, has entered the second half of a four-year $1.5 million grant from the Lumina Foundation for Education. Arizona was one of seven states to receive grant money for this issue.
The project is a partnership to develop Arizona as a state with a competitive workforce by helping residents receive degrees.
“We are really making a push to help students complete degrees,” Arizona Board of Regents spokeswoman Katie Paquet said.
Paquet said now more than ever, a college degree is needed to succeed in the Arizona workforce.
“We know Arizona lags the national average of adults who hold a bachelor's degree,” she said.
ASU has estimated students can save anywhere from 15 to 50 percent in tuition when taking advantage of various pathway programs, Getting AHEAD project director Karen Nicodemus said.
“When a student knows the path they are going to take, they have less wasted credits,” Nicodemus said.
There are 233 bachelor's degree pathways to ASU from 10 community college districts that serve more than 6,200 students, Nicodemus said.
The online advising system has also been enhanced since the implementation of Getting AHEAD to help students graduate in a timely manner, Nicodemus said.
“These tools provide students an easy way to see where credits will transfer,” Paquet said.
Another benefit of the program is the relationships built between community colleges and Arizona universities. The program has fostered a much higher level of collaboration and communication between universities and community colleges, Paquet said.
Chandler-Gilbert Community College student Tanner Durrett plans to transfer to ASU in fall 2013. He is thankful that the Getting AHEAD project reassures his credits will transfer smoothly and save him the most money.
“It shows ASU cares about community college students,” Durrett said. “It is nice to be guided to take the right classes, ensuring that I will get my degree faster.”
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