New collaboration expands educational opportunities in Pennsylvania

Partnership between Penn State Commonwealth Campuses, community colleges aims to remove barriers to degree completion
Head of Lion Shrine and Shield graphic
Credit: Sharon Siegfried

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses and the state’s community colleges have announced a new collaboration aimed at expanding educational opportunities in Pennsylvania and removing barriers to degree completion among college students. The collaboration builds upon long-standing relationships between the campuses and the community colleges and a shared commitment to access and affordability in higher education. 

As part of the new initiative, individual Penn State Commonwealth Campuses and community colleges will renew or enter into new articulation agreements using a standard template. Articulation agreements help streamline the process for students to transfer from community colleges to the campuses. In addition, the community colleges and Commonwealth Campuses will work together to strengthen academic advising and transition support services, further easing the transfer process.

“This new agreement between Penn State and Pennsylvania’s community colleges is built upon our shared mission to strengthen our communities, serve the students and families of our commonwealth, and create expanded pathways to the transformative power of higher education,” said Penn State President Neeli Bendapudi.

The collaboration will promote the availability of RaiseME Transfer Scholarships. Penn State currently participates in the RaiseME initiative, which enables students who enroll at Pennsylvania community colleges and transfer to Penn State Commonwealth Campuses to earn a baccalaureate degree at considerable savings. Students can start earning a Penn State RaiseMe scholarship while working toward graduation at a community college. They earn micro-scholarships for achievements such as getting good grades, participating in co-curricular activities or volunteering in the community. When they transfer to Penn State, the micro-scholarships are converted to a Penn State scholarship.

“On behalf of the presidents of Pennsylvania's 15 community colleges, I want to express our excitement about expanding our partnership with Penn State. This agreement will create new opportunities for community college students to become Nittany Lions,” said Tuesday Stanley, chair of the Pennsylvania Commission for Community Colleges and president of Westmoreland County Community College.

The Commonwealth Campus and community college collaboration also establishes a common dual admission program. Pennsylvania community college students with a high school degree who are enrolled in an associate degree program may request dual admission to a designated Penn State Commonwealth Campus and receive a conditional offer of admission to that campus. During their last semester of community college enrollment, these students will submit a transfer application at no fee. They will be guaranteed admission into a bachelor’s degree program at that campus, provided certain eligibility requirements have been met. Students can learn more about this opportunity at Penn State’s undergraduate admissions website.

“We look forward to enhancing our robust partnerships with Pennsylvania colleges and universities to create additional pathways to bachelor's and higher-level degrees,” Stanley said.

“Thousands of Pennsylvania students have benefited from the long-standing relationship between Penn State’s Commonwealth Campuses and the state’s community colleges,” said Penn State Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses Margo DelliCarpini. “Our renewed agreement will provide guided support and reduce barriers for students to earn their degrees — associate and baccalaureate — at considerable savings in their hometowns.”