NAU’s joint community college partnerships draw growing number of students

Enrollment is growing rapidly in an innovative program that clears the path to a college degree for students at community colleges and in rural areas of Arizona.

Northern Arizona University’s 2NAU joint admission program began just four years ago with a handful of students, and today nearly 1,900 students are participating. That number includes nearly 600 students from four rural community colleges, making up about one-third of the total participation from 17 community colleges across the state.

“These students clearly see the benefits of beginning their college careers closer to home in an environment that is supportive and affordable,” said Fred Hurst, senior vice president of Extended Campuses at NAU. “The 2NAU approach serves students and the state by making a four-year degree more attainable.”

2NAU students are jointly admitted to a community college and NAU. Students receive intensive guidance from both institutions in exploring and preparing for career options while completing their community college curriculum. Students save money by completing their first two years at the community college tuition rate.

In addition, 2NAU students receive a waived NAU application fee, an NAU ID card, email address, Cline Library privileges and more. Students who complete their associate’s degree with a 3.5 GPA or better qualify for an NAU scholarship for up to $4,000.

NAU President John Haeger said the popularity of the program, which began as a partnership with Coconino Community College in Flagstaff, will help provide the state with an important resource.

“We launched 2NAU as part of our commitment to making college more accessible and affordable,” Haeger said. “As Arizona begins to recover from the profound economic challenges of the past few years, it’s more important than ever to increase the number of college-educated workers.”

The program recently won a statewide award for helping students earn college degrees. The Arizona College Access Network, a program of the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, presented a 2011 Pathways to Postsecondary Education Award to NAU in November.