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How many community college students get their degree in Pennsylvania? A new study looks at the numbers

New study shows community college students aren't finishing their degrees
New study shows community college students aren't finishing their degrees 02:33

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- A new study shows community college students are not finishing their degrees. It's a national trend and Pennsylvania isn't immune.  

It's a problem a lot of community colleges are seeing across the country: individuals not staying long enough to finish their degrees and those who do get an associate degree, when they move on to four-year institutions, they don't last there either. It's a problem that needs to be solved.

Jarred Johnson is wrapping up his studies at Community College of Allegheny County with big plans for his educational future.

"I plan on going and getting my master's in special education," he said.

According to a newly released study by the Community College Research Center, 80 percent of community college students plan to finish their degree. However, the numbers show that in the state of Pennsylvania, only about 17 percent of community college students actually complete their degrees within six years.

"Sometimes we have dreams and we want to try to pursue them but sometimes life happens," Johnson said. 

According to the study, factors include cost, untransferable community college class credits, limited academic advising and understanding the challenges of family, school and work balance.

Since the pandemic, many baby boomers have left the workforce, leaving companies desperate for workers. The stringent "must have a four-year degree" requirements is a thing of the past and depending on the job, associate degrees are OK in the post-pandemic employment model.

KDKA-TV reached out to CCAC President Dr. Quinton Bullock regarding the study and its findings. The school issued a statement saying in part,

"It is important to note that CCAC has program-to-program articulation agreements with the 10 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education and has specific articulation agreements with 32 additional colleges and universities that enable CCAC graduates to seamlessly transfer. 

According to transfer data CCAC received from the National Student Clearinghouse, an average of 40% of CCAC students successfully transfer to other institutions of higher learning. From that same transferring group, 3,610 (30%) earned a degree from that school." 

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