New Law Helps Students Transfer to CSUs

Adriana Orellana

The Student Transfer Achievement Reform Act, SB1440, signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sept. 29, guarantees community college students who earn an associate’s degree admittance into the California State University system.

The law will simplify the student transfer process between California Community Colleges and the California State University (CSU) system because students will only take the classes needed to transfer. The initiative, expected to go into effect by fall 2011, will establish a transfer associate’s degree for students who have completed 60 transferable units that include general education and major preparation courses. Community college students who obtain the associate degree designated for transfer will be admitted to their local CSU with junior standing.

The California Legislative Analyst’s Office stated that community college students who transferred to CSU campuses now graduate with an average of 162 units when the minimum requirement is 120 units. This means that students are taking more units than necessary at the community college level, some of which may not be transferable.

Currently, a student may transfer a maximum of 70 units from a community college to campuses of either the UC or the CSU systems. It is advised that students transfer with at least 60 transferable units to ensure that they are admitted to the four-year institution with a junior or upper division status.

“The Student Transfer Achievement Act guarantees student’s admission to their local Cal State,” said Janet Shamilian, president of the Associated Students of Glendale College (ASGCC).

“This is a very positive aspect of SB1440 as the entire transferring process will be easier and students will be informed of exactly what they need – swaying away from taking unnecessary classes that have no relevance to their major,” she said.
California Community Colleges Chancellor Jack Scott said, “This law is going to make a real difference for students. The current process is too complicated and it is easy for students to get frustrated, confused and waste time when the requirements change.”

The law is expected to increase efficiency in transfers and generate $160 million in cost savings per year, which will be used to provide access to about 40,000 additional community college students and 14,000 CSU students per year.

A study by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office found that about 50,000 community college students transfer each year to the CSU system.
“The negative aspect of SB 1440 is that students in the area of the CSU will get priority over those who live far away,” said Shamilian.

“This is not understandable because all students should get the same level of priority in applying to the institutions of their choice. Another negative side of the act is that in a few years, the CSU system is going to be highly impacted,” she added.

A joint task force composed of members of the California Community Colleges and CSU systems, will work on ensuring coordination between both systems for an easy implementation process, as well as making recommendations for further legislation, regulatory changes, or other policy changes.

“I am delighted to serve on the committee that will deliver a clear transfer pathway for community college students to a California State University,” said Eloy Oakley, president of Long Beach City College, in a statement. “As a community college transfer student myself, I know first-hand how frustrating it can be. I look forward to implementing this new law that promises to help students achieve a college degree and transition into the workforce in a shorter period of time.”

Provisions within the law would guarantee increased funding for the community colleges for the associate’s degrees conferred.

“It isn’t fair that students are transferring without a degree, and with the new law students will be more prepared to enter the job market easier, and transfer easier,” said Richard Cortes, GCC transfer counselor. “The job market wants students with a degree, and student will be obtaining marketable degrees.”

Cortes also said that students who want to obtain an associate degree and transfer to a CSU will have to petition for it and accumulate 60 units, including English 101, a transferable math class, a critical thinking class, and a speech class. The class requirements to obtain a degree and transfer will vary by major. Students can obtain associate degree and transfer petitions at the counseling offices and the Transfer Center.