CORVALLIS, Ore. - Oregon State University President Ed Ray signed a historic agreement with Clackamas Community College on Tuesday, giving OSU a degree partnership with all 17 of Oregon's community colleges. OSU is the only university in the state with that distinction.

Oregon State also has a similar arrangement with two community colleges in Hawaii.

Ray and Clackamas Community College President Joanne Truesdell signed the agreement at a ceremony Tuesday at CCC that will allow students to enroll concurrently at both schools in a seamless pathway to degree completion.

"(The degree partnership program) is arguably the most important - and most successful - initiative for student access to university education in the state of Oregon," Ray said at the ceremony. "As someone whose life was forever changed by access to affordable public higher education, this is more than a concept for me. It is a program with profound and enduring consequences.

"From an institutional perspective, the crucial outcome of this program is that together we are demonstrating to all Oregonians that their educational institutions can put aside turf issues and work for the common good in an innovative way."

OSU's partnership program differs from many "co-admission" programs developed by other institutions that offer students what amounts to a traditional transfer opportunity in a slightly repackaged form. Oregon State's program has one application, coordinated financial aid and the flexibility to take courses at the partner institutions at the same time.

"This agreement helps OSU meet our land grant mission with the state," said Kate Peterson, assistant provost for Enrollment Management OSU. "It creates a pipeline for students to make higher education a reality."

The program is open to all U.S. citizens and residents pursuing their bachelor's degree. Many students in the program also earn an associate's degree.

Peterson said additional advantages of the degree partnership enrollment program include:

  • Lower tuition costs;
  • Students are able to work with community college advisers and OSU advisers at the same time;
  • One application and one application fee;
  • Financial aid applies to both institutions for the same term, for qualified students;
  • Students may take up to 10 consecutive terms at the community college and remain active as OSU students;
  • Increased flexibility in scheduling with access to more classes through the community college, on-site at OSU, and with online courses offered though the OSU Extended Campus;
  • Access to libraries, computer labs, and other services on both campuses (subject to an additional fee);
  • Eligibility to live in on-campus residences and participate in campus dining plans;
  • Eligible to live in OSU's Gem Apartments as an upper-division student;
  • Dual enrollment at OSU and the community college.

A recent study done on the partnership between OSU and Linn-Benton Community College shows that students in this program have a higher graduation rate, take fewer credits - thereby saving more money and graduating with less student debt - and graduate with a higher grade point average than traditional transfer students.

More than 5,500 students have taken advantage of the program since 1998, and more than 2,400 were enrolled in the program in the spring term of 2007.

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Kate Peterson,