randy_hanna.jpgMIAMI — Thanks to a half-million-dollar grant from the Helios Education Foundation, students who transferred from Miami Dade College (MDC) without first earning an associate degree may still be able to earn their associate of arts degree, while attending state universities.

The Credit When It’s Due grant is part of a partnership between the State University System and the Florida College System.

As a way to increase the number of students earning associate degrees, the pilot program targets students who transferred from state colleges to state universities, without receiving an associate degree.

The program does two main things, said MDC Director of Enrollment Management, Rene Garcia. “It gives more credentials to students, which” he says, “leads to very positive outcomes.” In the long run, Garcia says, “students earn more money and are less likely to be unemployed.”

State education officials say obtaining an Associate in Arts (AA) degree would also give transfer students a meaningful stepping stone toward finishing their baccalaureate degree.

“Associate degrees have a proven track record in the labor market,” said Florida College System Chancellor Randy Hanna. “This in turn makes the students more employable and benefits Florida’s economy.”

Ten state colleges and four state universities are taking part in the two-year pilot program, which began last fall. As part of the program, state universities identify transfer students who have completed general education credits to determine if they meet the requirements for an AA degree.

MDC has partnered with FIU and this month expects to receive a roster of potentially eligible students. State colleges and universities that have partnered together in the pilot will receive resources to help implement and institutionalize this process.

The grant is administered through the Florida College System Foundation. Helios Education Foundation is one of several sponsors for the initiative which includes the Lumina Foundation for Education, the Kresge Foundation, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Office of Community Colleges Research and Learning at the University of Illinois will collect data on the results to determine the impact on degree completion.