Governor Terry McAuliffe, George Mason University President Ángel Cabrera and NOVA President Scott Ralls joined together on April 4 to announce a strengthened partnership to benefit students desiring to transfer from a two-year program to achieve a four-year undergraduate degree.
ADVANCE: A NOVA Mason Partnership will increase graduation rates and smooth the path to a degree while saving students time and money in the process. ADVANCE also will work in collaboration with regional employers to adapt and create high-demand programs to fulfill critical workforce needs.
“I’m proud to be part of this announcement of a new, stronger partnership between our largest public research university and largest two-year college,” McAuliffe said. “My administration has always focused on three broad goals: ensuring equality for all Virginians, enhancing our quality of life, and building a new Virginia economy. There is no better way to achieve these goals than ensuring our citizens have access to high-quality education, which we all know leads to better jobs, greater fulfillment and more enriched lives.”
ADVANCE will create a single point for students to access admission and financial aid, a dedicated advisor from NOVA admission through Mason graduation, realignment of curricula to ensure students do not lose credits when they transfer and financial incentives for the neediest students to advance to graduation.
The program will strengthen an existing partnership that has helped nearly 3,000 students annually transfer from NOVA to Mason. It also will help students save money. Estimates show students who earn a four-year Mason degree two years after transferring from NOVA can save a full year of tuition.
“We see this as a critical solution at a time when many students across the nation who want a degree are not able to achieve that goal,” Cabrera said. “We are committed to helping these students and see ADVANCE as a real difference-maker.”
Although 80 percent of students attending community colleges say they want to earn a four-year degree, only 14 percent achieve that goal after six years, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center. Students who graduate from NOVA with an associate degree perform better than the average, at 20 percent.
Those are striking numbers in a time when, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, a graduate of a four-year college can expect to earn 33 percent more over their lifetime than a graduate of a two-year college.
“This is about making the right investment for our future,” Ralls said. “Our power to grow together to support the region is fundamental to the growth of the Northern Virginia economy. It’s also an essential component of our mission of inclusive excellence, which ensures that all students who want a degree can earn one.”
Other attendees included Virginia Secretary of Education Dietra Trent, State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV) Director Peter Blake, Northrop Grumman CEO Wes Bush, Steve Block of Amazon Web Services, Representative Tom Davis, Mason Rector, Vencore Inc. President and CEO Mac Curtis, NOVA Board Chair Todd Rowley and Grace Billingsley, a NOVA student who transferred to George Mason.