RALEIGH (February 16, 2022) – As tuition at four-year universities climbed over the past decade,1 increasing numbers of students chose to start their college careers at one of North Carolina’s 58 community colleges.
“We provide two-year associate’s degrees, but also a seamless transition for those individuals that want to pursue a four-year degree,” Thomas Stith III, President of the N.C. Community College System, says in the accompanying video.
The community college system’s two-year associate’s degrees in teacher preparation cost about one-third as much as starting at a four-year institution, Stith says.
The UNC System is also working to establish common course numbers across its 16 universities to make transfers easier, especially for community-college transfer students.
After an agreement between the two systems in 2014, community-college transfers to the UNC System steadily grew, peaking at 11,159 students in Fall 2018 before slight declines in 2019 and 2020, due in part to enrollment declines during the COVID pandemic.
Community-college graduates who completed their associate degree before transferring to the UNC System as juniors in Fall 2019 had an average grade point average of 2.89, versus an average GPA of 2.90 for students who started at a UNC campus as freshmen.2
“Our data shows that individuals that pursue and complete a two-year associate’s degree at one of our 58 community colleges perform as well as individuals that start their higher education at a four-year institution,” Stith says.
“The North Carolina Community College System provides a seamless pathway to educational success.”
1 Tuition at UNC System universities has remained at the same level for at least five years, however: https://www.higheredworks.org/2021/03/five-years-of-flat-unc-system-tuition/.
2 https://myinsight.northcarolina.edu/t/Public/views/db_transfer/TransferEnrollmentTrends?%3Aiid=1&%3AisGuestRedirectFromVizportal=y&%3Aembed=y&%3Amobile=true&%3AdeepLinkingDisabled=y; https://www.northcarolina.edu/apps/bog/doc.php?id=66242&code=bog, pp. 30-35.