By Diana Matthews, The News Reporter
Southeastern Community College students will soon be able to co-enroll at UNC Pembroke, thanks to a new agreement SCC President Tony Clarke and UNCP Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings signed during a ceremony Nov. 5.
“I’m proud to collaborate with Tony as a partner,” Cummings said to a group of staff, supporters and students in SCC’s Cartrette Building. “In three or four years, every decent job” will require post-secondary training, he said. “And 80 percent of the jobs that will need to be done when today’s babies grow up do not exist now.”
Southeastern Community College President Anthony Clarke and UNC Pembroke
Chancellor Robin Cummings.
That is why, Cummings said, UNCP cooperates with N.C. State University and East Carolina University to provide “Pathways to Success” in engineering and medicine.
Cummings said that applications for admission to UNCP had increased dramatically due to the N.C. Promise Tuition program, which cuts undergraduate tuition to $500 per semester for N.C. residents. “It’s like getting a $10,000 scholarship.”
The rest of the tuition cost is subsidized by the state. Students are still responsible for housing, food, books and other fees, he said.
“Pembroke is a school of access,” Cummings said. Now, in addition to making it easier for UNCP students to access graduate schools, he wants to make it easier for community college students to transition to bachelor’s degree programs at UNCP.
Under the new Bravestep program, SCC students can be simultaneously enrolled at UNCP. Their course work will transfer to the university. Students will have ID cards for both schools, allowing them to attend plays and concerts at Pembroke or use the athletic facilities and libraries they choose.
Some high school students aren’t ready for the university yet, or they’re still exploring their options, Cummings said. UNCP already has a similar pathway in place with Robeson Community College students.
“I’d like to thank Tony for reaching out to me and for always being a visionary. We have 90 students from SCC on our (UNCP) campus now, out of 7,000 — that’s over 1 percent — and I wouldn’t mind twice that many.”
Clarke followed Cummings at the podium and described the benefits of the new educational pathway.
High school graduates from within Columbus County who apply to SCC as their first choice and who meet academic and need qualifications can take advantage of the SCC Success Scholarship to reduce their tuition to zero for two years.
Now, with the seamless transfer to UNCP and the N.C. Promise Scholarship there, they will be able to attend two more years of college for only $500 per semester, saving $2,600 a year.
“You get your bachelor’s degree for $2,000,” instead of going into debt, Clarke said. “If you don’t have to borrow to go to college, you shouldn’t.”
Cummings expects UNCP applications to quadruple within the coming months. Although the university is committed to serving southeastern North Carolina students, “At some point we’ll have to cut off” accepting more for the 2019-2020 year. He urged students considering UNCP to send in applications as soon as possible.
Michael Ayers, the community college’s vice president of academic affairs, said he had been counseling a student about her post-SCC options that morning. “She said she was considering UNCP but wasn’t really sure. I told her, ‘Boy, have I got a deal for you!’”