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Tuition program to help 2-year college students transfer to UA

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — The University of Alabama will help cover tuition and fees for some community college transfers starting with the fall semester.

The university’s new Alabama’s Promise program is for students who have completed some two years of community college, have a “B” average and qualify for full federal Pell Grants awarded to students from low-income families.

If Congress approves increases to the Pell Grant program, the need-based award will provide $4,600 annually for students. Alabama will contribute more if the maximum Pell Grant award remains $4,310.

The university will cover tuition and fees not paid by the grant, amounting to about $2,908 per student annually, according to research compiled by UA’s Education Policy Center.

Trustees approved an allotment of $500,000, which would cover about 170 students.

“We feel this is a comfortable margin in the first year,” President Robert Witt said. “Preliminary conversations show this will be an incentive for many students, so I could see it reaching $1.5 million eventually.”

It’s the first program of its kind in Alabama, though other states have similar programs.

David Hardy, director of research for the Education Policy Center, estimates about 300 community college students would qualify for the program. An associates degree or 45 credit hours is also required.

“This program gives support to people who had no opportunity,” said David Hardy, director of research at the center. “The part we don’t know is how many students this will make the difference between coming or not.”

Only 3.7 percent of students in Alabama’s 21 community colleges during the 2004-05 academic year moved on to one of the state’s four-year institutions in 2005, according to an analysis by the UA Education Policy Center. The national average was 8 percent in 2002.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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