Virginia Officials Push Community College

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

June 27, 2005

Over the last few years, the amount of high school graduates attending 4-year universities and colleges has increased. However, there is a new proposal that could help ease the growing burden and give incentives to send more high school graduates to 2-year colleges.

Virginia high school students could soon be able to attend a Virginia college or university cheaper and easier, if the 2006 General Assembly passes the Community College proposal.

Under the proposal, if a community college student graduates with a B or higher they would pay the community college tuition rate at the 4-year institution they transfer to. This would guarantee the students a spot in a public college or university.

"This will save the state a tremendous amount of money and it will enable all Virginians to have access to public higher education," said Frank Friedman, President of PVCC.

Officials estimate the state would save about $4,500 for every full-time Virginia student who starts at a community college.

Piedmont Virginia Community College officials said as long as they have the resources to educate the students it's not a bad idea. "That will enable us to take in hundreds of additional students," said Friedman.

Some of the universities see problems that lie ahead. For their loss, the state is only giving them $1,000 per transfer student.

Another big issue is that since the student’s spot is guaranteed it would make it harder for universities like UVA to say no to transfer students who may not fit their particular qualifications.

"For example, being able to write good English or to have a clean criminal record," said John Blackburn, the Dean of Admission at UVA.

Officials said no matter what they decide about this proposal they must do something to help these institutions. "If Virginia does nothing about this issue over the next 5 or 6 years, we are going to see more and more families screaming that their kids who are good students can't get into a Virginia public college or university," said Friedman.

The proposal is intended to ease the pressure on 4-year colleges to admit more students, especially in the freshman and sophomore years. Those classes tend to be every college's largest classes.

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