Texas bill aims to help students transfer all college credits

A bill working its way through the state legislative session will help junior college and community college students get their four-year degree.

The college credit transfer bill will create pathways for all credit hours taken at two-year institutions to count towards a student’s terminal degree when they transfer.

State Senator Royce West, D-Dallas, filed two higher education bills this session. The college credit transfer bill passed the Texas Senate this week.

Senate Bill 25 has the support of the legislative leadership and should easily pass through the House. It creates standards so classes taken at junior and community colleges will all be accepted an any Texas public university.

Ashma Pokharel and Yazmin Munoz are completing associate degrees at Dallas County Community College. But they are worried about some credits not transferring to their four-year universities.

“I still have some classes which will not get transferred, but I paid for that and I already took it,” Pokharel said.

It means for Pokharel, and thousands of other students, that some classes will have to be repeated.

“Because there hasn't been coordination across the state, every single institution has different expectations and requirements,” explained Dr. Joe May, the Dallas County Community College District Chancellor.

It’s something Munoz knows too well.

“I originally planned to graduate within four years,” she said. “But because different schools I was applying to required different classes for the same program, I’m not entirely sure what that deadline is going to be.”

“We're talking about $60 million a year of wasted money by families that are putting their kids through college or kids that are scraping their dollars together to get financial aid to go to college,” West said. “And many of the hours they're taking weren't counted towards a terminal degree.”

Sen. West filed a bill this session to change the college credit transfer problem. It’s passed the Senate.

“It sets students on a course and makes certain that you understand that there will be a seamless transition between community colleges and also four-year institutions,” he said.

Senate Bill 25 calls for creating general and disciplinary core curriculums. The coordinating board must develop fields of study and students have to declare a major after reaching 30 hours of college credit.

And even if a student decides to go to a different university after an advisor has helped them make an acceptable plan for a particular four-year institution, the bill says there would be courses that students can take that will be guaranteed to transfer to any public four-year institution in the state of Texas.

The bill is expected not only to save money but also help students get out on time without having to repeat some courses at a higher level college.

The college credit transfer bill could become law in Texas in September.