A new partnership will award associate’s degrees to Arkansas students who complete the required number of hours after transferring from two-year to four-year schools.

“Credit When It’s Due” was announced during a news conference Wednesday by Shane Broadway, interim director of the Arkansas Department of Higher Education, and Dr. Ed Franklin, president of the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges.

In Arkansas, 45 percent of students transferring from two-year to four-year schools complete 60 degree-eligible hours but never finish college. Those transfer students currently have nothing more than a high school diploma to show for their efforts. An associate’s degree makes them more employable, Broadway and Franklin said.

A recent study by the Arkansas Research Center found that, for Arkansans whose educational attainment ended in 2006, those with only a high school diploma had average wages of $14,972 in 2011. Those with associate’s degrees were making a median wage of $29,807.

Franklin said the partnership will also recognize the importance of an associate’s degree.

“Credit When It’s Due” is a partnership between the state’s 22 two-year colleges and 11 four-year public schools, Arkansas Department of Higher Education and the Arkansas Association of Two-Year Colleges. It is being funded by a $500,000 grant from the Kresge Foundation and is part of a national project involving 12 states.

Under the terms of the grant, the Arkansas Research Center is gathering data from student transfers from two-year to four-year schools in the fall of 2008. Eventually, the program will expand to students who transferred at other times. The Arkansas Research Center will inform schools about the status of qualifying students.

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Steve Brawner