Colleges compete for $50 million in rewards

Governor Jerry Brown recently announced that he will offer $50 million in reward money statewide to public colleges that increase their graduation rate and speed.

So far, 52 schools are competing for the proceeds, according to the submitted applications to the California Department of Finance: eight University of California campuses, 18 within the California State University system and 26 community colleges. The determining factor for a portion of the $50 million prize depends on the innovative and cost-effective means of getting a degree quicker.

The majority of representatives from the 52 participating colleges congregated at a forum in Sacramento on March 9 to vie for the California Awards for Innovation in Higher Education.

California natives want the state to reclaim its leading position in higher education. However, in the past the lack of funds has been the main issue, as well as an increasing demand for degrees and certificates.

Gov. Brown, who has set up the main framework for California’s public higher education has now offered a budget towards college innovation that causes students to graduate in less time.

At Skyline, the number of associate degrees awarded was 778 in 2014. Additionally, according to the 2013 SMCCCD fact book, there were 437 transfers to UC’s and CSU’s in 2012.

The winners of the prize money are to be announced on March 20.

The prerequisite for eligibility was that each institution outlines what measures they are taking to increase the issuance of degrees, or to ensure that students enrolled in community colleges are promptly transferring to four-year institutions.

“It’s a good plan, but I think anything that is going to get an institution to make their students go forward is a great thing,” said Nicole Harris president of the Associated Students of Skyline College. “We’re very fortunate at Skyline because we have so many different support structures that get you from here to graduation to CSU’s and UC’s because of these.”

Skyline College President Regina Stanback Stroud said in an email that Skyline is not on the list of colleges that applied for the competition.

“This is a great opportunity that is going to help other schools that aren’t as successful to excel at getting their students out and graduating, because unfortunately, we only have a set amount of time that we can be on financial aid,” Harris said. “The faster we get out, the faster we can get our bachelor’s and join the workforce, and it’s like a ripple effect that will propel students forward.”

Some proposals include incrementing summer courses and credit units and more intensive career counseling.

“A lot of things are taken into consideration when someone graduates, and it’s a well known fact that public colleges have limited resources,” UC Santa Cruz graduate Camila David said. “If the graduation rates are low, it could be because the institution doesn’t get enough funding to provide the best education or the best teachers.”