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For every 10 community college students in California, seven of them have declared their intention of transferring to a four-year university to earn a bachelor’s degree.

Their chances of doing that improved greatly this fall.

San Diego Christian College has joined with three dozen private, non-profit four-year colleges to offer community college graduates an easier pathway to earning four-year degree. In an agreement signed with California Community Colleges, these 36 schools will offer guaranteed acceptance and an affordable pathway for students to graduate with a bachelor’s degree.

In the case of San Diego Christian College, community college transfer students will also receive as much as $2,000 in discounts toward tuition.

There are 115 colleges in the California Community Colleges system, meaning the new deal has the potential to impact thousands of lives.

Expansion of Program

The 36 schools that signed the deal with the California Community Colleges are part of the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities (AICCU). The agreement greatly expands the existing program.

Since 2011, those who earned a two-year Associate Degree for Transfer – commonly called a “degree with a guarantee” – have been guaranteed acceptance into any California State University school.

The addition of new colleges to the program is part of California’s ambitious goal of increasing the number of workers with college degrees.

The Public Policy Institute of California has projected that at current graduation rates, the Golden State by 2030 will have a 1.1 million shortage of workers holding a bachelor’s degree. California Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz-Oakley said in a news release that the Associate Degree for Transfer program is “vital to our economy.”

“We are proud to work with the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities in providing our students additional opportunities to further their education and help guarantee their chances of achieving upward social mobility,” Ortiz-Oakley said.

Program Success

The expansion of the program also has to do with the fact that it’s been very successful so far.

Almost half of all students who have transferred to a California State University school after earning an Associate Degree for Transfer have earned a bachelor’s degree. That compares to 27% of traditional transfer students who eventually graduate, according to the 2017 Campaign for College Opportunity report.

San Diego Christian College and the other AICCU schools do their part in achieving a high rate of graduation. All the schools will work with community colleges. They will offer pre-enrollment information to community college students, as well as advise students on different pathways they can follow to achieve their educational goals and attain a bachelor’s degree.

Earning a four-year degree opens doors for graduates. In addition to allowing them to qualify for higher positions, a bachelor’s degree also leads to better pay. The federal government reports that those with a bachelor’s degree earn $1,173 per week on average, while those with an associate’s degree earn $836. Those with no degree earn $712.