A bill to simplify and cut the costs of transferring from a lower-level college to a four year-university is now on its way to the governor’s office for approval.
SB 25, filed by Sen. Royce West, D-Dallas, in March, was passed by the Texas House Tuesday afternoon — nearly a month after it passed through the Senate and just days before the end of the 86th legislative session. The bill aims to save taxpayers, students and parents money by ensuring that courses at technical institutes or community and junior colleges can easily transfer and count toward a degree at a four-year university.
The current system of transferring from one public university or college to another is complicated and costly, and students often accumulate an average of seven more credit hours than needed, according to a report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
“We have a lot of students that are taking college courses that are not applied or they don’t get credit,” West told the Houston Chronicle in April. Transferring costs students and parents around $45 million and the state about $15 million. That comes to $60 million of money wasted on untransferable credits each year, he said.
If enacted, the bill will reorganize prerequisites, core and lower-level courses, making it easier for students to identify which courses will transfer and how they can rely on fields of study in order to graduate in a timely manner without losing credits. It further details and encourages articulation agreements between community colleges and four-year colleges, and would require students to consult with academic advisers and file degree plans within 30 to 60 credit hours that would map out their course load.
Universities will also be held accountable and will be required to provide the coordinating board with an annual report, detailing which courses were not transferable that year and why, West said.
The bill, which has 30 lawmakers as sponsors and received a unanimous vote from all lawmakers who were present during the time of voting, has been a long time coming, according to West, who introduced the first version of the bill two sessions ago. But figures from major institutions have shown their support for amendments to the current college transfer process, including University of Texas at Austin President Gregory L. Fenves, who earlier this year called SB 25 one of this session’s most important bills, and Higher Education Commissioner Raymund A. Paredes, who called transferring the “most vexing issue” for the past several legislative sessions.
A host of other higher-education related bills have also been passed this month and are heading for Gov. Greg Abbott’s approval.
HB 449, a bill that would require colleges to indicate if a student had been expelled or suspended on their transcript, and HB 3165, which would create an occupational and life skills associate’s degree at Lone Star College, also passed this week.
Bills addressing the revising the definition and awareness of hazing, the protection of freedom of speech, foster care services for students, dual credit agreements between school districts and colleges, enforced degree plans, and using fees for a new student wellness and success center at University of Houston-Downtown all passed last week and have also been submitted to the governor or are en route.