One commonly recommended option for cutting college costs is to attend two years of community college before finishing up at a four-year school. This option is even more attractive in those cases where colleges and universities offer guaranteed admission to graduates of selected community colleges. Virginia is one place where this occurs.
Virginia’s community colleges offer students more than the opportunity to earn a degree or certificate. They provide a gateway to the Commonwealth’s four-year colleges and universities.
Through system-wide agreements, students who graduate from one of Virginias 23 community colleges with an associate’s degree and a minimum grade point average may obtain GUARANTEED admission to more than 20 of the commonwealth’s colleges and universities.
A student wishing to attend the University of Virginia, a selective school with a 33% admission rate and ranked #24 among national universities by US News & World Report, could save thousands of dollars and secure guaranteed admission by completing his first two years at Northern Virginia Community College. The agreement between the two schools stipulates the following:
The estimated cost savings over four years would be about $40,000, assuming the student lived at home for the first two years. Guaranteed admission to a selective university along with the savings make this a very attractive option.
Other locations have similar programs. The UMass Amherst Community College Connection offers guaranteed admission for community college graduates who meet certain criteria, including a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher. The California State University system gives priority admissions to community college graduates, but waiting lists have recently made this option less secure. The University of California Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) has also been affected by funding that has failed to keep up with enrollment, even leading to the termination of the program at UC San Diego.
Ask the community college if they have any guaranteed transfer programs to four-year universities and what course and grade requirements you must meet to qualify. If they don’t have guaranteed programs, ask which universities have “articulation agreements” that will at least give you some guaranteed credits.