ST. CLOUD -- Two higher education institutions are collaborating to help students achieve their goals.

St. Cloud Technical and Community College along with St. Cloud State University are partnering on new initiatives to help make enrollment, admission and transfer opportunities easier for students.

SCTCC President Joyce Helens, incoming SCTCC Interim President Lori Kloos and SCSU Interim President Ashish Vaidya held a Partnership Agreement Ceremony Wednesday afternoon at St. Cloud Technical and Community College.

The three higher education officials spoke highly of the current partnerships between the campuses as well as introduced new programs they'll be working on during the upcoming school year. Vaidya says the idea of a dual enrollment/dual admission program where students can apply to both institutions at the same time will help give students achieve their goals.

"We're going to make it so the student knows you have an option of being duly admitted to both SCTCC and St. Cloud State. From day one, that is your goal, you're going to come here, finish your two years, transfer and get done with a baccalaureate."

Affordability and time it takes to get a degree continues to be top concerns for students. Vaidya says by making it easier for students to transfer from SCTCC to SCSU it will help reduce the cost of higher education and keep students on track for graduating on time.

"Most students don't realize how affordable a pathway it is to do a 2-year associates degree and St. Cloud Community and Technical College, transfer to St. Cloud State, finish the remaining two years and in four years you have a cost effective high valued degree."

Transfer degree programs are being developed in manufacturing engineering, software engineering and healthcare fields known as 2+2 degrees. Meaning a student does two years at the tech school and two years at the university. Vaidya says right now they are working on making degree programs in these high demand areas the same price even after a student transfers to SCSU.

"One of my pet projects, which I hope we make some movement on is this one price degree plan. To say you know what, don't get too confused about what fees you have to pay here and something else there and then when you transfer you have another set of fees, tuition there and so on an so forth but can we really set up a 2+2 one price package."

The two institutions have been collaborating for years on their campus card systems, public safety, library resources and Community College Connections program.

(Chrissy Gaetke, WJON)