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HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut is rejecting more than 20 percent of the transfer credits from students coming into the school from the state's community college system, according to a study released Thursday.
John Mullane, a counselor at Gateway Community College who authored the study, said UConn currently has 479 transfer students from the community college system. Those students had an average of about 44 credits accepted and just under 12 eligible credits rejected by UConn, according to his report.
He said that means many will be forced to take an extra semester at UConn, paying a total of about $3 million in additional tuition to earn their bachelor's degrees.
"That's a huge problem when it comes to access and affordability," he said. "When you have to pay twice to take the same class, that's a huge cost."
UConn spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz says the university has analyzed carefully which courses to accept for transfer credit, and the school's website clearly specifies which courses transfer and which do not.
"Students who transfer from Connecticut's community colleges are an integral part of the UConn fabric, and collectively they bring diversity, life experiences and new perspectives critical to a vibrant campus life," she said.
State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, D-Meriden, co-chairman of the General Assembly's Higher Education Committee, said the problem needs to be addressed.
"Quite honestly, it's really unfair to the students. So not only are they sometimes paying twice for courses, but they're also in the situation of using up financial aid on courses that aren't even earning credits," she said.
Bartolomeo said lawmakers have seen the same problem with the Board of Regents, which oversees both the community colleges and the four state universities. She said there was supposed to be a seamless process for transferring credits between those schools but it wasn't happening. Last fall, the board dedicated two full-time faculty members to address the problem, creating new "pathways" that guarantee 100 percent of a student's community college credits transfer to a state university.
She said there is funding in the legislature's Appropriations Committee's proposed budget for those staff positions.
"What I think what needs to happen is, we have to get it working for the community colleges to the state universities and then absolutely we need to apply that principle to UConn," she said.
The number of credits that transfer has a direct effect on the ultimate success of transfer students at UConn, Mullane said.
His study showed that about 82 percent of students who transfer in to UConn with 60 or more credits and obtain junior level standing eventually graduate with a bachelor's degree. The graduation rate for students who transfer in with fewer credits is about 66 percent, he said.
"It's more money, more time and it really hurts a student's chance of graduating," he said.
Mullane said the problem could be solved with legislation mandating seamless transfer from a community college to UConn. That would lead to transfer and articulation agreements allowing students to know before enrolling in a community college that all their credits would transfer to the same area of study at UConn, he said.
"We are developing those pathways with the state university system — Central, Southern, Eastern and Western," he said. "But there are not any new pathways in development with UConn. That is a huge problem."
Mullane said part of the problem is a "myth" that some core courses offered at community colleges are not as rigorous as those at UConn and need to be repeated.
Associated Press Writer Susan Haigh contributed to this report.
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