Bill would give Colorado college students more degree options

Thursday, the Senate Education Committee passed the bipartisan Opportunities for Higher Ed Success Act, sponsored by Sen. Evie Hudak, D-Westminister, and Sen. Keith King, R-Colorado Springs.

The bill would allow college students who begin at a community college and then transfer to a four-year college to earn an associate’s degree while also working toward a bachelor’s degree.

Senate Bill 45 would allow transfer students who complete a sufficient number of credits to transfer their credits back to their community college and receive an associate degree while continuing to pursue their baccalaureate degree.

“As we continue growing our economy, it is imperative that we provide our students with all the tools they need to succeed and join the workforce,” said Hudak in a prepared statement.

The Opportunities for Higher Ed Success Act creates the Associate Degree Completion Program in the Colorado Department of Higher Education to remove barriers to degree completion. Senate Bill 45 will require four-year institutions to notify two-year institutions when a transfer student completes 70 credit hours. The two-year college will then audit the credits to see if an associate degree has been completed, and if so, to then award the degree. If the student has not completed the necessary credits, the student will be notified of the additional needed credits to help them finish their associate degree.

Andrea Witte, a student at Red Rocks Community College, said “I support this bill because it will allow me to go back to Metro State College, and transfer back credits so that I can get my associate degree and start working in the medical field to further my career in the PA Program.”

A former teacher of 20 years, Hudak is currently the vice chair of the Senate Education Committee, and serves as a member of the Colorado School Finance Project, The Colorado State Accountability Network, and served on the State Board of Education for eight years.

Scot Kersgaard has been managing editor of a political newspaper, editor and co-owner of a ski town newspaper, executive editor of eight high-tech magazines (where he worked with current Apple CEO Tim Cook), deputy press secretary to a U.S. Senator, and an outdoors columnist at the Rocky Mountain News. He has an English degree from the University of Washington. He was awarded a fellowship to study internet journalism at the University of Maryland's Knight Center for Specialized Journalism. He was student body president in college. He spends his free time hiking and skiing.