New Rules for Transfer Students But UW's Doors Remain Open

Changes in transfer and financial aid rules will have a long term effect on how many students the UW admits--and how fast they graduate--but will not change the UW's commitment to keeping its doors open to those who desire a UW degree, says Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Services W. W. "Tim" Washburn.

Much attention has been focused on a new policy regarding transfers from the state community college system, says Washburn, and most of the comments have been misguided. The University will keep the same percentage of community college transfers it has in the past--30 percent of all new admissions each year. For 2003-04, Washburn says that will total 2,315 new students, most at the junior and senior levels.

What has changed is the way the UW accepts transfers. In the past the UW and the community college system had a Direct Transfer Agreement. Any student with an associate degree and 2.75 G.P.A. was automatically admitted to the Seattle campus.

Starting in the summer of 2004, community college transfers will be competing with each other for the available slots. A student's intended major, as well as his or her academic performance, will be factors on acceptance to the Seattle campus.

"There's been a misunderstanding, an impression that the UW was backing away from its commitment to community college students. This is wrong. We're simply changing the way we select students to fill the 30 percent enrollment share," Washburn says.

The UW is taking these steps because there are more transfers applying than there are slots available, and the situation is bound to get worse. Planners predict that Washington state high schools will graduate a record number of seniors in 2008. In the last legislative session, Olympia did not fund any new enrollments directly for the UW.

Washburn offered some tips for community college students hoping to be admitted under the new policy. "Think early about your intended major. Investigate the pre-requisite courses at the UW and make sure that you have completed them. Do your best in those courses and work to complete your associate's degree," he says.

"And finally, make your prospective major your goal, not necessarily a UW degree from the Seattle campus." Washburn added that UW Bothell and UW Tacoma will not have the same restrictions as Seattle and offer an attractive alternative.

Since the state has not funded new enrollment, the UW is trying to get students through the pipeline faster. The UW has the highest graduation rate for any four-year, public university in the state; 70 percent graduate in six years. One way to turn more students into alumni is to impose graduation plans and change financial aid limits.

The UW now requires any student with 210 or more credits to file a graduation plan before they can register for the next academic quarter. "We had about 400 of these students in the fall. By the time classes started, more than 300 had filed plans and many of them will be done by the end of winter quarter," Washburn says.

The UW has also changed the number of credits students can earn before their financial aid expires. The new limit is 225 credits, which is the equivalent of five years at a full load every quarter. "There is some misunderstanding about this being a time limit, but that's wrong. It is a credit limit. If a student took 12 credits every quarter and the summers off, it would take more than six years to run out of financial aid," Washburn says.

Yet another rule change will affect the 20 percent of UW undergraduates from out of state, as well as graduate and professional students. The UW is tightening up its residency requirements to match those already imposed by other states. Non-residents taking six or more credits will be considered here for educational purposes. In order to qualify for residency, they must spend at least 12 months in the state for non-educational purposes.

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