SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Wednesday signed legislation that guarantees admission to California State University to community college graduates, a change backers say will help more students earn four-year degrees.
The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act allows students who complete 60 semester units at one of California’s 112 community colleges to transfer to a Cal State campus and earn a bachelor’s degree with an additional 60 units. It takes effect in fall 2011.
“This is a watershed moment for future college students across the state of California, who will now be able to more easily reach their goal of attaining a bachelor’s degree,” CSU Chancellor Charles Reed said.
Under the new law, California Community Colleges will create new associate degree programs for transfer students, who will have junior status when they enroll at one of 23 CSU campuses. Students who complete the programs will be guaranteed admission to Cal State, but not necessarily the campus of their choice, said spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp.
College officials believe the STAR Act, which was approved unanimously by the state Senate and Assembly, will save an estimated $160 million annually by making the transfer process easier and more efficient.
Currently, about 50,000 community college students transfer to a Cal State campus each year with an average of 80 semester units, far more than the 60 units required, according to the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office.
Those transfer students graduate from CSU with an average of 162 units, even though only 120 units are required for a bachelor’s degree, according to a report from the California Legislative Analyst’s office.
Supporters say the bill authored by state Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Pacoima, will allow Cal State and California Community Colleges to serve an additional 50,000 students a year because students will be able to complete their degrees faster, freeing up seats for other students.
“This law is going to make a real difference for students,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott. “The current process is too complicated. It’s easy for students to get frustrated, confused and waste time when the requirements change.”
The governor also signed a companion bill by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, that makes other changes to improve the transfer process and calls on the 10-campus University of California system to develop a similar pathway for community college transfer students.
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