Harrisburg – Senator Bob Mensch (R-24), co-chair of the bipartisan Community College Caucus, participated in the Pennsylvania Commission for Community College’s Press Conference in Harrisburg today to bring awareness to community colleges and their need for increased funding.
“Pennsylvanians who obtain education through community colleges address needed skill sets that allow them to remain marketable and relevant in the workplace,” said Mensch. “One of the many benefits to earning a community college degree or certificate is that they tend to excel professionally. Students with a degree or certificate earn $500k more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school degree. In less than five years, 65 percent of all new jobs will require a postsecondary credential.”
Senator Mensch highlighted Montgomery County Community College’s (MCCC) cutting edge of STEM innovation and the upcoming opening of its Sustainability and Innovation Hub at the West Campus in Pottstown. A key feature of the Hub is an aquaponics teaching laboratory, which will support the College’s new, interdisciplinary Environmental Studies degree program.
“Community colleges make tremendous economic impacts on their local communities and the Commonwealth,” said Mensch. “According to the MCCC’s 2014 Graduate Survey, 68% of MCCC alumni are employed in Montgomery County and 97% are employed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Both the County and Commonwealth see a 7.2% rate of return on their support of the College. Every $1 of state and local tax money invested today will yield a cumulative $21.60 in benefits that accrue to all Pennsylvania residents in terms of added taxable income and avoided social costs.”
Senator Mensch also referenced Bucks County Community College (BCCC) which is expanding its Newtown campus to better serve students in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics field. In addition, BCCC offers a Center for Workforce Development that provides customized onsite training for area corporations and businesses. One very successful program is the employer-driven metalworking program. Over a period of 18 months, 43 people were trained in this specialty, with a 93% job placement rate.
Senators Mensch also commended the recent ‘Reverse Transfer’ initiative announced by the PA Community Colleges and State System of Universities last week. The Reverse Transfer Program will enable students who have earned at least 60 total credits to apply for an associate’s degree from the community college where they started.
Receiving the degree could immediately enhance the student’s earning potential, even as he or she continues working toward a bachelor’s degree or other certification or credential at a State System university. Many students who initially enroll at a community college do so with the intent of eventually earning a bachelor’s degree, staying long enough to earn an associate’s degree before transferring to a four-year college or university. Some leave before earning a degree, either to transfer or to go directly into the workforce.
The Reverse Transfer Program gives those who transferred without a credential a pathway to their first college degree. Students who began their postsecondary education at any community college in Pennsylvania and earned a minimum of 45 credits before transferring to any State System university can participate in the new program. Eligible credits may include those earned through Prior Learning Assessment (PLA), Advanced Placement (AP), College Level Examination Program (CLEP), Credit by Exam and the military.
A student must have enrolled at a State System university within five years of leaving the community college and have earned at least 15 additional credits at a State System university to be considered for the program. Their State System credits will be transferred back to the community college and applied to the requirements for the associate’s degree.
The State System universities will identify eligible students once they complete the 60 total credits and invite them to participate in the reverse transfer program. If interested, the eligible students will fill out a release form and their State System university transcript will be sent to the community college for review and evaluation.
If approved, the community college will award the degree. Students will not be charged either a graduation or transcript fee by either institution involved. The first degrees could be awarded through the program as early as this summer. Many students likely already are eligible. Others could be once the current semester ends in May.
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