Ohio agency reaches out to boost associate degrees

CLEVELAND - Ohio's higher education agency is searching for former community college students who transferred to public, four-year colleges before qualifying for an associate degree but may have since accumulated enough credits for one.

Thousands of students are being notified that courses taken after they transferred might make them eligible for two-year degrees, The Plain Dealer in Cleveland reported.

An Ohio Board of Regents initiative is aiming to get associate degrees awarded for such students.

The office identified 8,100 students who might qualify and notified their universities, said Tony Landis, director of college and career transitions for the regents.

Students must give permission for their transcripts to be sent to their previous schools for a determination on degree eligibility.

Universities are expected to let the regents know how many students end up getting associate degrees.

Ohio is one of a dozen states participating in a "reverse-transfer" program funded by five foundations.

Last year, the state got a $500,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation for the effort.

Regents deputy chancellor Brett Visger said all of the two- and four-year public colleges in Ohio are participating in the program.

He said community colleges also were urged to contact private universities about the issue.

"When you see the data for college completion at community colleges you can't help but let out an involuntary groan," Visger said. "But the reality is different and this captures the transfer function and at least recognizes the role that community college play in helping people get toward completion."

Years ago, the regents created a module that shows the courses at public schools that meet general education requirements.

Visger said credits from those courses transfer to any of the institutions, allowing students to take some of the basic classes at less-expensive community colleges.

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