Nurturing community college transfer students may be especially important as states cut university funding and impose tuition increases, says Stephen G. Katsinas, director of the University of Alabama's Education Policy Center. "For millions of students, community colleges are, in fact, the portal to higher education," Katsinas says.
The Rumer family of Maryland testifies to this. Back in 2002, the year that Chris graduated from high school and started at Allegany College of Maryland, his mother, Annette Rumer, received a bachelor's from Frostburg State University, two years after earning an associate's degree from Allegany. Also in 2002, daughter Sandi got an Allegany associate's degree. Chris was later accepted into Penn State with a 3.7 grade point average. There, he volunteered for the campus weather service, joined a severe-weather watch team, and interned at the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y. "I was seeing my passion and my dream unfold before me," says Rumer, who now works for an environmental consultant in Pittsburgh. Although his Penn State sheepskin left him $67,000 in debt, Rumer knows his path helped him save money. "My friend on Long Island was in the same program as I was. He borrowed for 3½ years," Rumer recalls. That friend ended up owing $120,000.
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