House Bill Would Let Community Colleges Offer 4-Year Programs

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

LANSING -- Craig Pontius doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

"I have absolutely no problem with it," the Lansing Community College student said Friday at one of the downtown campus cafeterias.

He's talking about a bill passed Thursday by the state House that would allow community colleges to award four-year bachelors degrees -- which means students wouldn't have to transfer.

"The transfer can be obscene," said Craig, who plans to transfer to Davenport University in a year. "You go there, you find out all these classes that were supposed to count don't, and all these other problems."

Craig himself wouldn't see any benefit, as the legislation applies only to certain subjects. But he says in these tough economic times, there's no reason not to pass the bill.

"Right now, I have no college debt. I owe this school nothing," he said. "Go to MSU, and I'm gonna have to take out more loans and everything else."

But not everyone is so pleased about the bill. Officials from the traditional four-year colleges, for one, say it's bad for tuition rates, bad for the economy and bad for students.

"Our pledge is let's collaborate, not duplicate, expensive programs," said Michael Boulus, executive director of the Presidents Council for State Universities, which opposes the bill.

He points out that Michigan's four-year institutions already service some 15,000 students at community colleges across the state, allowing them to transfer their credits easily.

Plus, Boulus says, all the extra professors and resources needed for a four-year program could mean tuition hikes down the line.

"It really opens the door for higher costs, duplication and waste in our state's community colleges," Boulus said.

But the students here at LCC say that's a risk they'd be willing to take -- if it means they get to stay put.


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