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Caride & McKeon Bill to Ensure County College Students Who Transfer Attain Associate’s Degree if Eligible Now Law

(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats Marlene Caride and John McKeon sponsored to ensure that eligible students’ receive an associate’s degree from the community college even after transferring to a four-year institution has been signed into law.

“Too many students are walking away -for various life reasons – from college after investing two years and thousands of dollars in loans without, at least, an associate’s degree simply because they earned some of the credits at a community college,” said Caride (D- Bergen, Passaic). “Students who started their college career in a county college and continued their studies in a four-year institution should be able to accumulate their credits to receive an associate’s degree. Most professions and jobs out there require at the very least an associate’s degree. If they’ve earned it, they should receive it.”

Specifically, the law (A-4691) requires each institution of higher education to enter into a collective Statewide reverse transfer agreement. Under the agreement, a student enrolled in a four-year institution of higher education who has a cumulative total of 66 credits earned between a county college and the four-year institution may be awarded an associate degree by the county college.

“Many of New Jersey’s college students begin their studies in a community college prior to transferring to a four-year college,” said McKeon (D-Essex, Morris). “A collective agreement between all colleges in the state would provide students, who have completed the credits required, with an associate’s degree if they discontinue or postpone higher education. This law will help us to ensure that New Jersey families and college students are getting something in return for the money invested in a college education.”

The reverse transfer agreement will address the following issues:

  • (1) the effective communication between the county college and the four-year institution on student transcripts and course equivalencies;
  • (2) the process by which a student is notified of potential eligibility, and by which the four-year institution obtains the consent of the student for release of his transcript to the county college;
  • (3) procedures for advising students on the courses that a student needs to complete to attain an associate degree;
  • (4) policies and procedures for the annual review and update of the agreement; and
  • (5) policies and procedures for the collection of data by the secretary to ensure that all institutions are in compliance with the bill’s provisions.

The policies and procedures established in the collective Statewide reverse transfer agreement will be fully operational by September 1, 2018. The law implements a recommendation of the College Affordability Study Commission included in its September 2016 final report.