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New California bill to offer bachelor's degrees for under $11k

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Posted at 1:47 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 12:54:36-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – A college degree may soon become a reality for more students at the San Diego Community College District. A new assembly bill would add bachelor’s programs and make them more affordable.

Community colleges typically only offer certificates and associate degrees. If students want a bachelor’s degree, they would have to transfer their credits to a traditional four-year school. A newly introduced California assembly bill would take switching schools out of the equation.

Carla Hacker will be graduating in May with a bachelor’s degree in Health Information Management from Mesa College. It’s the school's only bachelor’s degree offered as part of a pilot program with 14 other community colleges in the state.

If AB 927 passes, it would make those pilot programs permanent while adding additional bachelor’s degree options in high-demand fields like information technology, manufacturing, and healthcare.

Perhaps the biggest selling point is the degrees would cost less than $11,000. The price tag comes as a substantial saving compared to traditional four-year schools.

“There’s a lot of us that wouldn’t even attempt it without this type of financial assistance,” said Hacker.

When she first started doing tech support for radiology, she didn’t need a college degree. Fifteen years later she realized that changed.

“When I started seeing people getting promoted and I didn’t understand why they got promoted over me, I found it they all had degrees,” said Hacker.

The bachelor’s program at Mesa College allowed her to work full-time while taking classes at night that fit her budget and kept her close to home.

“As you get older you worry about being the first one to be let go,” said Hacker. “Now I feel so much more confident and secure and I’ve learned so much through the program that I’m really excited about my future now. I’m not worried about it.”

She’s hoping her success story will make the dream of college a reality for other students like her.

“The way I looked at it was five years, four years, two years, it’s going to pass anyway, and I may as well just go to school and get a degree,” said Hacker.

AB 927 is currently in committee. If it passes, any community college could start a new program as long as it doesn’t compete with one already offered at a CSU or UC campus.