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Transfer agreements between ECC and ECSU part of growing trend

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to include comments from North Carolina Community College System President Peter Hans. 

Co-admission partnerships between community colleges and University of North Carolina schools are multiplying.

On April 29, Elizabeth City State University signed four transfer agreements with Edgecombe Community College, ensuring community college students a clear path to specific ECSU degree programs. ECSU, which offers tuition of $500 per semester for state residents, will now “co-admit” ECC students who plan to study criminal justice, business administration, and early childhood education. The co-admission agreement guarantees that ECC students who graduate with an associate’s degree can complete their bachelor’s degree at ECSU.

“At Edgecombe we are dedicated to fulfilling the needs of our students,” said Edgecombe President Gregory McLeod. “We are working to move them forward and we look forward to a strong, successful and long-lasting relationship with ECSU.”

“We are demonstrating one of the many ways we can collaborate and provide career paths to the students we serve,” said ECSU Chancellor Karrie Dixon.

The merger follows a trend of partnerships between UNC schools and campuses within the North Carolina Community College System.

About 49% of all U.S. college students begin school at a community college, a new study from the national Jack Kent Cooke Foundation shows. But just 9% of students who transfer from community colleges enroll at competitive, private colleges.

Many UNC schools offer high quality, low cost education. They’re solid pathways for many students who might be priced out of attending such universities straight out of high school — and North Carolina legislators and UNC administrators have long discussed the importance of easing transfer for those at community colleges.

North Carolina has a statewide “articulation agreement” that sets parameters for UNC’s admittance of community college students. The UNC Board of Governors approved the agreement, but it’s up to each school in the UNC system to develop its own system for transfers.

Roughly 735,000 students are enrolled across the state’s 58 community college campuses. That’s about one of nine North Carolina residents over the age of 18. Multiple UNC campuses, including UNC Chapel Hill — the system’s flagship campus — are working to make community college transfers easier for students.

UNC Chapel Hill, which accepts just 27% of applicants, in January announced expansion of its Carolina Student Transfer Excellence Program, known as C-STEP. C-STEP guarantees students admission to UNC if they earn an associate degree from a qualifying community college. Students who transfer are required to maintain at least a 3.2 grade point average at a community college.

UNC Chapel Hill partners with 13 community colleges and receives roughly 44 percent of its transfer students through C-STEP. Those students have a graduation rate of almost 86 percent, the university says.

N.C. State University, considered the other flagship campus in the system along with UNC Chapel Hill, has a Community College Collaboration agreement with eight community colleges. UNC Greensboro in 2018 announced a co-admission agreement with Rockingham County Community College, ensuring admission for transfer students in almost 60 majors.

ECSU’s recent agreement with ECC is a good sign of expanding, rural access to higher education, said North Carolina Community College System President Peter Hans.

“Kudos to those university leaders such as Dr Karrie Dixon and Dr Randy Woodson who understand how co-admission agreements benefit students and expand affordable access to higher education for people in areas such as Edgecombe and Nash counties,” Hans told Carolina Journal.