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WCCC-St. Vincent credit transfer to cut cost for some students

| Thursday, Nov. 29, 2012, 7:59 a.m.

The cost of earning a degree at St. Vincent College dropped significantly for some Western Pennsylvania students on Wednesday.

With the stroke of a pen, St. Vincent President Brother Norman Hipps and Westmoreland County Community College President Daniel Obara signed an agreement allowing students in three programs to transfer from WCCC to St. Vincent without losing any credits.

WCCC students who complete an associate's degree in business, psychology, or criminology, law and society can now transfer to St. Vincent with junior standing to finish their bachelor's degrees.

That means students could pay WCCC's $90 per-credit rate for their first two years of coursework rather than St. Vincent's $892 per-credit fee. The agreement is effective beginning with the spring 2013 semester.

“Given the kind of challenges our students and families face with increasing costs in higher education, having an articulation agreement becomes very important,” Hipps said.

Transfer students are eligible to apply for up to $15,000 in merit scholarships from St. Vincent in addition to need-based aid for which they qualify, officials said.

An agreement on a fourth program, pre-chiropractic, is in the works, said John Smetanka, vice president for academic affairs at St. Vincent.

“You want to have a four-year plan that gets you from point A to point B where point B is walking across the stage (at graduation),” Smetanka said.

Twenty-two students transferred from WCCC to St. Vincent during the 2011-12 academic year, said Anna Marie Palatella, a WCCC spokeswoman.

“In Westmoreland County, we're fortunate to have a rich diversity of colleges and universities,” Obara said. “All these institutions collaborate with each other. We're not in competition.”

WCCC has transfer agreements in place with dozens of schools, but some are on a less formal, course-by-course basis. The college has formal articulation agreements, such as the ones initiated with St. Vincent, with 25 other schools.

The agreements can offer students significant savings during their first few years of classes.

Tuition for a 15-credit semester at WCCC costs $1,350 compared to about $14,000 per semester at St. Vincent, Seton Hill or Duquesne universities. A semester of tuition at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg costs $5,985, while tuition at state universities such as Indiana University of Pennsylvania and California University of Pennsylvania is about $3,200 per semester.

Room, board and various fees are not included in the tuition costs.

Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or kandren@tribweb.com.

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