Workforce boon sought in ‘unprecedented’ college transfer agreement

John J. “Ski” Sygielski, president of HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College – Submitted

In an effort to streamline students into post-grad employment, Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC) and Reading Area Community College formalized a partnership this week with Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) that will allow students to complete bachelor’s degrees through the university’s online programs.

The articulation agreement, signed by each of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges, will allow students to transfer up to 90 credits to SNHU with a 10% reduction in tuition, helping to make postsecondary education more affordable, said HACC President and CEO John J. Sygielski.

“Community colleges work hard to provide students with quality education at an affordable price, which is why we’re so pleased to announce our partnership with Southern New Hampshire University,” he said.

The partnership was announced Wednesday as part of the state’s effort to have 60% of Pennsylvanians aged 25-64 holding postsecondary degrees or industry-recognized credentials by 2025.

“At SNHU, we seek to streamline the transfer process for community college graduates across the nation and we are excited to team up with all 14 community colleges in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Jennifer Batchelor, vice president of SNHU’s global campus.

Officials from the Pennsylvania Commission for Community colleges said the lease agreement provides one of the most affordable pathways to a bachelor’s degree in Pennsylvania and is the state’s first articulation agreement that authorizes the transfer of credits from all of the colleges’ academic departments.

“Thousands of articulation agreements are already in place with higher education partners here in Pennsylvania to help students realize their postsecondary achievement goals and we fully expect those longstanding partnerships to continue,” said Elizabeth Bolden, president and CEO of the Commission for Community Colleges. “The academic preparation, success and focus of Pennsylvania’s community college students is appealing to many national higher education institutions, as these students are typically motivated and high-performing.”

SNHU is already one of the most transferred-to institutions for community college students in the commonwealth, accepting nearly 500 in the 2018-2019 academic year and awarding 166 Pennsylvania community college students bachelor’s degrees in 2019.