Alamo Colleges Pathways Project Saves Students $374 Million

April 1, 2021

Kay Hendricks

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At a press conference today, the Alamo Colleges District announced major news about the success of its innovative pathways program that allows students to transfer to a university without losing credits or taking extra courses to get their bachelor’s degree.

Over the last five years since the project began, the district has shaved a year off the time students require to earn an associate degree. They now earn their degree in less time than that of all large community college districts in the state and less than the state average of nearly four years.

Students who start at the Alamo Colleges now earn their degree, which requires 60 semester credit hours, in an average of 65.4 hours, compared to the state average of 81 credit hours.

“But the really big news is how much money our students save by completing their degree with us in less time, and being able to transfer all the credit hours they earn with us to a university,” said Alamo Colleges Chancellor Dr. Mike Flores. “On the average, students who follow our seamless transfer pathways at a public university that is part of our Transfer Compact partnership save $40,215—or $65,435 at a private university! If we look at transfer students for 2020, the average potential savings is an astounding $374 million!” he added.

On hand was one of the students who benefited from the pathways initiative, Sarah Foster, who transferred to UTSA without any loss of credits. Former Alamo Colleges student Foster returned to college as a 30+ mother of two, after 20 years out of school. “Now, I’m about to begin my second semester at UTSA, where I seamlessly transferred all of my credits thanks to using the TAG for psychology, which my Alamo College’s advisor told me about,” says Foster. “Using it kept me from losing credits when I transferred and applied them all toward my degree at UTSA, saving me time and money,” she added. Ultimately, Foster plans to earn a Ph.D. and become a clinical psychologist.

UTSA, the choice of most of Alamo Colleges’ transfer students with 3,656, has the highest combined average savings for 2020 transfer students, $151.6 million. It was the first university to join the Alamo Colleges’ Transfer Compact, a partnership in which member universities align their curriculum with the Alamo Colleges so that students can transfer without loss of credits or repeating courses. It includes 20 universities and the Austin Community College District.

The Alamo Colleges pathways project began with the creation of AlamoADVISE, which provides advisors to students to help them choose a career pathway and to take the courses that will lead to completion of a degree in their chosen field or prepare them to transfer to complete a bachelor’s degree. The effort also encompasses the AlamoINSTITUTES, which divide career fields into six institutes and outlines the curriculum required through Transfer Advising Guides (TAGs). These are guides between the Alamo Colleges and partner universities that provide a detailed pathway for transition to a bachelor’s degree.

Currently, the Alamo Colleges and its partner universities have created more than 1,500 TAGs and are continually adding more. In addition to the TAG’s, the district offers students 514 seamless transfer pathways which guarantee zero loss of credit hours, time and money when they transfer. Adding in the additional 245 TAG’s where students may take one additional course, as opposed to the state average of seven additional courses, the district has 759 seamless career pathways.