- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Each year hundreds of students transfer from College of Southern Maryland to a four-year college or university, a plan that can save thousands of dollars in tuition debt.
The community college is trying to get that message out to prospective students and their parents.
Nearly 700 students taking classes in the spring 2009 or fall 2010 semesters transferred to four-year institutions by the end of the 2010-2011, academic year, according to CSM. The majority of those students 533 enrolled in Maryland colleges or universities.
Lisa Presgraves, 29, of Lexington Park is making that transition this year after she finished her associate’s degree in art at CSM this past spring. She is enrolled for a full slate of classes for the fall semester at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, which begins next Monday.
She said she did have some assistance from CSM in the transfer process, although she said she is more independent than many students, especially after her four years in the Air Force.
Presgraves said she still had to take on some student debt, but that she finally was able to work out her military benefits to pay for tuition last year and the upcoming year.
She went to an open house at St. Mary’s College earlier this month, where she met some of her soon-to-be peers.
“A lot of them were fresh out of high school. They didn’t seem to notice I was much older than them. But I did notice,” she said.
That age difference doesn’t really concern her, though. She thinks that the straight A’s she earned at CSM will have prepared her well for classes at the public liberal arts four-year college.
“I’m not sure what to expect,” she said. “I think I’ll be able to handle it.”
CSM students transferred to 110 different bachelor’s degree colleges and universities in 31 states and the District of Columbia last year, according to James Spence, CSM senior coordinator of transfer services and articulations.
He said the final degree is identical for someone who transferred into a four-year college as for someone who spent all of their undergraduate time there.
“The first years at CSM are basically the first two years at a four-year college,” and include mostly general education requirements, he said.
He and others at CSM will work with students who plan to transfer to make sure all of their classes are both transferable and applicable to their desired degree.
“We try to encourage students to plan early just to make sure their credits transfer,” he said.
Anyone who completes a degree at CSM or another Maryland community college is guaranteed admission to a four-year public college in the state, as long as space is available, he said.
The local community college has transfer agreements with about 16 colleges and universities in Maryland and online colleges.
“There is a push for four-year colleges to become more transfer friendly,” Spence said.
Other CSM programs provide seamless transitions for higher degrees through partnerships with the Southern Maryland Higher Education Center, the University of Maryland, College Park and the Navy.
Money saving venture
The College of Southern Maryland cited statistics from the credit monitoring service CreditKarma that show Maryland student loan debt averages $33,667, the highest in the nation. National average student loan debt is $25,000.
“The student loan debt is a national problem and we have a solution,” Brad Gottfried, president of CSM, said in a statement about the affordability of community colleges.
“If students don’t understand the consequences of their financial transactions today by signing on for large student loans, they really can be impacting their future quality of life and ability to own a home, have a family or even buy a car,” Gottfried said in the statement.
The average student debt for CSM students in 2010-2011 was $4,958, according to information from the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Data System, said CSM Planning, Institutional Effectiveness and Research Department Analyst Daniel Turner.
He said tuition and fees cost less than $4,000 a year at CSM. Four-year colleges can easily cost two or three times that price, not counting room and board.
“Students earning their associate's degrees at CSM and then transferring to complete their baccalaureate degrees can save an average of $28,000,” Turner said.
To learn more
For information on the Maryland Transfer Advantage Program, articulation and transfer program requirements, visit www.csmd.edu/Academics/fouryear.html or contact James Spence at 301-934-7002 or JamesS@csmd.edu. For information about starting classes at CSM, visit Discover.csmd.edu or call 301-934-7765.