Save Time And Money On A Four-Year Degree — But Start Early And Check On Transferring Credits


For Stephanie Landers, a Gila Community College student, the road toward a degree in film and journalism has hit a bump.

After taking classes at an out-of-state community college, many of her credits did not count when she moved to Arizona and applied at in-state universities.

Many community college students face the same obstacle — taking undergraduate classes that do not transfer to a four-year school.

New programs through the state’s three universities are working to end this problem.

“I did a year of school in New Jersey and when I went to apply at ASU, I found out that national accreditation isn’t the same as regional accreditation,” said Landers.

Landers, like many students, start their education at a community college to save money and get basic courses out of the way. Unfortunately, when they transfer their credits to a four-year institution, they find they didn’t save money or time. As Landers discovered, they can lose up to a year’s worth of credits.

So, what can a student do to avoid this problem?

In the past, programs such as the Arizona General Education Curriculum A (AGEC-A) provided students at community college the chance to complete their lower division general education requirements for the University of Arizona (UofA), Arizona State University (ASU) or Northern Arizona University (NAU).

But without guidance, even this program did not guarantee credits would apply to a chosen major.

Students lost time, money and often the drive to complete a degree.

To increase the number of Arizona students obtaining an undergraduate degree, both ASU and NAU have created programs to help students.

This spring, ASU and GCC started Transfer Admissions Guarantee (TAG) to guide undergraduates who know what degree they want to complete. The program creates a road map to graduate in four years on two campuses.

“Most parents and students don’t have the luxury to take many courses out of their major,” said Dr. Maria Hesse, vice provost for Academic Partnerships at ASU.

Hesse worked in the Chandler-Gilbert Community College District for 25 years. When ASU started the program with community colleges, Hesse was called out of retirement to head up the program.

“I came to ASU specifically to develop a relationship with community colleges,” she said.

Instead of guessing if the classes they take will transfer, students now complete their degrees on time and under budget and because community colleges collaborate with the universities, students know exactly what the university expects, said Hesse.

Information on the program can be found at

NAU has a similar program for community college students. Called EAC2NAU the program places an emphasis on counseling and bringing the student into the NAU family with an e-mail address and access to NAU research resources.

“We (NAU) are smaller than ASU and UofA because of sports. We all have our reputation,” said Melissa Tanton, EAC2NAU program coordinator.

NAU has a reputation in forestry, education and nursing, said Tanton.

Recently, Tanton sent out a letter to Payson residents who attend GCC inviting them to participate in the EAC2NAU program.

“We were surprised how many Payson people are interested. We’ve been getting calls left and right,” said Tanton.

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How to start the ASU Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) program from GCC:

Contact Brooke Barmore — transfer specialist for the Eastern Arizona-Gila Community College District. Phone: 480-965-7788 Transfer to ASU Web site: Tutorial available on Web site.

What the program offers: Guaranteed admission to ASU degree programs; 32 degree options from GCC to ASU; cost-effective plan to guarantee all course credits apply to ASU degree.

Ability to use the ASU tuition commitment program. (This program guarantees the student the rate available at the time of signing onto the TAG program. Students will be responsible for any increases in tuition, but those increases will be based on the tuition total at the time of signing onto the program.) Access to ASU adviser by phone and in-person.

What is required to apply for TAG: Work with community college and ASU advisers to monitor progress; completing general education requirements with a specific GPA and any special requirements; complete TAG within three years; agree to share academic data and advising information with both GCC and ASU.

How to start the EAC2NAU transfer program:

Contact Melissa Tanton, NAU counselor for EAC. E-mail: Phone: 928-428-8344, Web site:

What the program offers:

Earn an associate degree at EAC and bachelor’s degree locally, online or in Flagstaff; application fee waived; work with advisers from EAC and NAU to guarantee taking the right courses; access to online resources, NAU’s Cline Library, and an NAU e-mail account; some degree programs accept up to 90 transfer credits from community college; receive a Joint Admission Scholarship of $2,000 per academic year, if renewal criteria met; complete high school education; finish the Arizona General Education Curriculum (AGEC) at Eastern Arizona College; enroll at least part-time (six hours) at EAC fall and spring; intend to earn an undergraduate degree from NAU; have not previously attended NAU as a degree-seeking student; meet with both an EAC and EAC2NAU program coordinator a minimum of once per semester.


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