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Students save thousands of dollars using NOVA's transfer program

Rising tuition costs and burgeoning student loan debt is making it hard for students to achieve their goal of earning a bachelor’s degree. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

At Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA), students can significantly cut their tuition costs by attending the community college for two years, and then transferring to a four-year college through the College’s Guaranteed Admission Agreements program.

The program allows students who graduate with an associate degree to transfer seamlessly to a four-year institution provided they meet certain GPA requirements and other conditions.

To date, more than 40 colleges and selected programs have agreements with NOVA, including two new institutions that signed on this year -- Randolph University and Regent University. The growing number of agreements allows students to fulfill their career goals in fields such as nursing, computer science and business.

“With student loan debt on the rise, our guaranteed admission agreements provide students with the opportunity of transferring and obtaining a baccalaureate degree for significantly less,” said NOVA President Robert G. Templin, Jr. “More students are recognizing the value of making the most of their college funds by finishing the first two years at NOVA, and then transferring to any of the well-known Virginia four-year colleges and universities.”

From 2001 to 2010, the cost of attending public four-year institutions has grown at a rate of 6.5 percent per year. If the trend continues, the cost of a public education in 2016 will be significantly more than twice the 2001 cost, according to the U.S. Department of Education. It cost an average of $13,600 to attend a four-year public college during the 2010-11 academic year.

Nationally, higher tuition costs have resulted in more students borrowing. Two-thirds of college seniors who graduated in 2011 had student loan debt, with an average of $26,000 per borrower, according to The Institute of College Access & Success.

Because of NOVA’s low tuition cost, $145.25 per credit, students can save thousands of dollars by starting their academic studies at the College and then transferring to a four-year institution to complete their bachelor’s degree. During the 2011-2012 academic year, NOVA administered more than $109 million in grants, scholarships, loans and student employment. Monies like those can further reduce students’ out of pocket expenses while attending the community college.

Leaving college with a degree and no debt was important to Sami Ahmed. So, when he decided to attend college he chose NOVA and then transferred to Virginia Tech using the Guaranteed Admission Agreements program.

“The cost was a lot cheaper,” said Ahmed, 22, of Woodbridge. “When it came down to it, I knew that NOVA was one of the best community colleges in the nation. I didn’t think I was shortchanging myself by going to a community college first, rather than a four-year institution.”

Today, Ahmed works as an information technology consultant in Northern Virginia. He earned an associate degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in business information technology.

NOVA continues to work with other four-year institutions to put in place new agreements. “We are already the premier institution for students to earn an associate degree,” Templin said. “But we don’t want to stop there. We want to help students achieve all their academic goals, including earning a bachelor’s degree.”

For more information about Guaranteed Admission Agreements visit www.nvcc.edu/gaa.

To calculate tuition costs between two- and four-colleges in Virginia visit www.vawizard.org/vccs/Main.action.

Media Contact: Jennifer Gonzalez | 703-425-5839 | jgonzalez@nvcc.edu

Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through NOVA Online. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.