A bill passed in the state legislature is expected to be beneficial to college students in transferring to other institutions.

Senate Bill 25, authored by state Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, requires college students to file degree plans after earning 30 credit hours, whereas before 45 hours were needed. Dual credit students are required through the new law to file degree plans after earning 15 credit hours. If a university or college does not accept transfer credit, that institution will need to report that data to the legislature and Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

“Senate Bill 25 is intended to help prospective students identify which courses they can take at one institution, often a two-year institution, that will transfer towards a particular degree at a four-year college or university,” West’s Chief of Staff La Juana Barton said. “Right now, far too many students find themselves having wasted time, and money, accumulating unnecessary debt to pay for credits that are not ultimately transferable.”

WC Student Services Executive Dean Adam Finley said a large portion of the college’s student body intend to transfer or are dual credit students. SB 25, coupled with the college’s Guided Pathways initiative, requires students to declare degree plans based on the coordinating board’s fields of study or an approved program of study. Guided Pathways is an initiative to increase college completion, transfer rates and job placement.

Finley said the current degree declaring process places most students in the general studies degree plan, though there are specific degree plans for workforce degrees or associate of applied sciences certificates and degrees.

“The change will be beneficial for students as it will give more structure to degree plans and assist in the transfer of credits — hopefully reducing the time to degree and saving students tuition cost,” Finley said.

The requirements of SB 25 are expected to be helped by WC’s new Student Information System, which is expected to be implemented in full by fall 2020.

“The new system will require every student to declare a ‘program’ before enrollment and will present all requirements for degree completion of that program assisting in meeting SB 25 objectives,” Finley said. “Our goal is to map out each plan of study by utilizing our established Programs of Study and Field of Study plans approved by THECB. Mapping every program will give every student a clear path to degree completion.”

As far as the reporting aspect of the bill, WC General Counsel Dan Curlee said THECB is responsible for providing the report formatting.

“When that THECB activity will be accomplished is beyond our control, so timing of implementation is an unknown at this time,” Curlee said.

WC is supportive of the new law, Curlee said.

“The college is supportive of the goals of this legislation to make as certain as possible the effectiveness of our college in providing cost and time effective education to our students,” Curlee said.

The reporting aspect of the bill is expected to generate useful data for lawmakers so they may better understand challenges to improving the transfer process, Barton said.

“I believe that one of several positive outcomes of the passage of Senate Bill 25 will be the considerable data it produces, and that this new information will help drive additional policy improvements in the future,” Barton said.

SB 25, which was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott last month, is immediately effective.

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