Bridging the Opportunity Divide

The State That’s Making Higher Ed Accessible to Even More Students

October 3, 2014
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The State That’s Making Higher Ed Accessible to Even More Students
To allow more students to earn low level bachelors degrees, California is allowing 112 community colleges to issue the degrees to students studying in fields not already offered at the 4-year university level. William Berry/Flickr
With this move, a bachelor's degree will cost as little as $10,000.

Even with tuition skyrocketing, more and more employers are demanding that recruits have at least a bachelor’s degree, meaning that college (for the most part) is a smart investment.

Still, four years of college can be unaffordable for many. According to the College Board, it now costs $22,826 on average for an in-state public college for the 2013–2014 school year, and $44,750 at a private college.

Community college is a much less costly alternative for those seeking higher education or job training, but unless a student later transfers to a four-year institution, graduating with a two-year associates’ degree from a community college might not be enough in a tough job market.

But now, Californian community college students will soon have a massive leg up. A new bill (SB 850) recently signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown allows up to 15 community colleges in the state to offer bachelor’s degrees.

MORE: How One Community College Works to Get Transfer Students More Education

As U.S. News & World Report writes, the degrees will be offered in areas such as dental hygiene, industrial technology, allied health technology, emergency medical technicians and other fields that now require bachelor’s degrees. The best part? Community college students who take this route can potentially complete their bachelor’s degrees for around $10,000 total.

“This is landmark legislation that is a game-changer for California’s higher education system and our workforce preparedness,” state senator Marty Block, who authored the bill, says in a statement. “SB 850 boosts the focus of our community colleges on job training and increasing the accessibility and affordability of our state’s higher education system.”

There are currently 20 other states that offer bachelor’s degrees at the community college level, but California has the largest community college system in the whole country, so this new law is bound to benefit a vast number of students.

The pilot program will kicks off by the 2017-18 school year and runs through 2022-23. But hopefully, that won’t be the end of this smart move.

DON’T MISS: Inside the Movement for Free Community College

 

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