Central Oregon Community College and Oregon State University-Cascades, Central Oregon’s leading higher-education organizations, have teamed up to allow students to become admitted to both schools simultaneously in pursuit of four-year degrees.

With the new Degree Partnership Program, students starting at COCC can declare as “bachelor’s-degree seeking” and become jointly admitted to both schools, which will allow them to access OSU-Cascades advisers while they attend COCC, according to an OSU-Cascades press release.

Becky Johnson, vice president of OSU-Cascades, said this will help students avoid classes at COCC that wouldn’t help them toward their eventual bachelor’s degrees, saving them money and time.

“If we can get students thinking about what kind of OSU degree they want in the future, we can help them take the right classes to get that degree,” she said.

Johnson said students will only have to pay one application fee. Students applying to the program must meet OSU admission requirements, which include a “recommended” minimum 3.0 high school GPA and submission of official ACT or SAT scores.

COCC spokesman Ron Paradis said students in the program can be eligible for both OSU scholarships and the Oregon Promise grant, a statewide community college grant to help cover tuition costs.

The press release says students in the program can also choose to pursue degrees available at OSU’s Corvallis campus or online.

“The joint … agreement provides COCC and OSU-Cascades a truer sense of a student’s goals. That knowledge improves our ability to guide and advise them, and their ability to leverage financial support,” COCC President Shirley Metcalf wrote in the press release. “It also increases the likelihood of the student’s success — which is our ultimate goal.”

According to Jane Reynolds, OSU-Cascades’ director of enrollment services and student success, Metcalf and OSU President Ed Ray signed the agreement in November, and starting then, students could begin applying to the program for the 2019-20 school year.

About 30 percent of students at OSU-Cascades transferred from COCC, according to the press release, and Johnson said she expects the number of those transfer students to rise. Paradis said on average, 12-15 percent of COCC students transfer to one of OSU’s two campuses.

Johnson said she appreciated COCC’s willingness to work with her university to create the program, and called the schools “strong partners.”

“We want what’s best for the students, whether they’re at COCC or OSU-Cascades,” she said.

— Reporter: 541-617-7854, jhogan@bendbulletin.com