Clark students bring tuition dollars

Add Clark College in Vancouver to a growing list of community colleges in the area that have co-admission agreements with Portland State.


Now Clark students who satisfy all requirements in their field of study will be guaranteed transfer admission into PSU. President Daniel Bernstine made it official at a signing Thursday in Vancouver.


The agreement is meant to ease the transfer for Clark students who come to PSU, with benefits like scholarship opportunities, coordinated degree completion and joint library services.


What it means to PSU, though, is tuition dollars.


Terrel Rhodes, vice provost for Curriculum and Undergraduate Studies, said the agreement is beneficial to PSU in two ways: it attracts students who may not have attended otherwise and, in turn, produces transfer students better prepared for upper level coursework.


"The biggest benefit in any real tangible way is to receive students here who might have gone somewhere else," Rhodes said, "and the tuition dollars involved with that."


Once a student transfers, the university will receive out-of-state tuition for enrollment over nine credits and in-state for eight or less.


As the proportion of state monies being funneled to PSU decreases year after year, tuition becomes an increasingly important part of funding the university. Rhodes said state money currently fulfills about 15 percent of Portland State’s budget, down from about 25 percent just six years ago.


The co-admission agreement also addresses the space issues PSU runs into as an urban campus. As classes compete for space downtown, Portland State can offer courses at community college campuses where facilities are often newer and less cramped. Additionally, students living in outlying areas who travel downtown for classes may be able to take some of those courses without the commute, Rhodes said.


"The more convenient it is for them, the more likely they are to do it," he said, citing that over 1,000 PSU students come in from Clark County. "So part of this is just responding to that."


PSU’s attention to accommodating transfer students gained the university a $775,000 research grant from the Lumina Foundation in June.


Under the grant, Portland State will spearhead research involving transfer patterns and success in low-income and minority student populations. A Phoenix and a Tampa university will be involved in the research along with seven community colleges, according to Erin Malecha Arias, senior marketing communications manager. She said part of PSU’s success is in taking grant money and making it work.


Rhodes said Mt. Hood Community College, and not Clark College, would be involved with the grant project.


"I think that the work coming out of this grant will ultimately be useful to other institutions though," Rhodes said.


PSU currently has more than 1,500 co-admitted students from Portland, Clackamas, Chemeketa and Mt. Hood community colleges.