Gov. Jay Nixon recently signed a new Missouri law designed to help college transfer students, which will have an impact on students who attend State Fair Community College.
Nixon signed the legislation June 16, which calls for Missouri’s public colleges and universities to restructure general education courses, making it easier for students to get credit for classes if they transfer between schools, according to an Associated Press report.
The legislation will require each community college and four-year institution throughout the state to adopt a similar 42-credit-hour lower-level curriculum.
“The provisions in the bill will greatly benefit community college students across the state,” SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson wrote in a prepared statement for the Democrat. “SFCC has good articulation agreements with many four-year institutions; however, creating a 42-hour general education curriculum among all public institutions should make it simpler for students and will eliminate transfer issues with some lower division courses.”
The coordinating board of higher education will work in conjunction with an advisory committee, comprised of representatives from both community colleges and public four-year institutions, to develop the recommended core curriculum, according to the legislation.
The curriculum will cover the fields of mathematics, English, communications, the humanities, biological and physical science, social science and computer technology.
All students must complete the core curriculum as a requirement of graduation.
According to Anderson, the legislation also establishes a process through which the Coordinating Board for Higher Education shall certify a college or university as an approved dual-credit provider.
“Dual-credit allows high school students to get a jump start on college and adds value and rigor to the junior and senior year,” Anderson said. “SFCC provides dual-credit courses to 1,648 students throughout our 14-county service region and will continue to follow the process to be an approved provider.”
Until the facility of higher education receives approval by the Coordinating Board of Higher Education as a dual credit provider, the courses may not be listed or offered as dual credit by the providing school.
A third provision of the recent legislation establishes a “Dual-Credit Scholarship Act.”
Anderson explained that if funded, eligible students who are enrolled in dual-credit courses may be reimbursed for up to 50 percent of the tuition cost paid by the student. The total amount of the scholarship may not exceed $500 annually.
There are requirements for eligibility for the scholarship including United States citizenship, residency in the state of Missouri, enrollment in an approved dual credit program, have a cumulative grade point average of at least a 2.5 on a four point scale and meet one or more requirements based on economic needs described in the act (Section 173.2500).
“If funded, the dual-credit scholarship would be a great benefit for many low income students,” Anderson wrote. “Although State Fair discounts the tuition for dual-credit, the $76 per-credit cost can still be a problem for some students since they are not eligible for federal financial aid while in high school.
“This year SFCC had 13 students earn associate degrees through dual-credit at the same time they graduated from high school,” Anderson added. “That’s a huge savings in both time and money for the students.”
One final provision to the legislation is the “15 to Finish Act.”
Under this section of the law, the Coordinating Board working with public institutions of higher education will develop policies to promote the on-time completion of degrees in no more than eight semesters and will reduce the number of credit hours to earn a degree (Section 173.2510).
“SFCC has implemented many initiatives to help students persist and complete their education,” Anderson said. “We support the ‘15 to Finish’ concept in conjunction with our Navigator Advising and student success efforts.
“For the last couple of years, SFCC has set graduation records with the number of degrees and certificates awarded,” she added. “Data shows our efforts are paying off for students, which is very exciting because student learning and success is our big goal.”
Anderson commented that the Missouri Community College Association was instrumental in provisions included in a House bill that was eventually added to Senate Bill 997 and applauded the work of both Sen. David Pierce and Rep. Dean Dohrman for their work on the law.
Colleges and universities will have until fall 2018 to implement the programs outlined in the legislation.
Hope Lecchi can be reached at 660-826-1000 ext. 1484.