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RCC links to affordable online nursing degree program

A recent guaranteed-admission agreement between the Virginia Community College System (VCCS) and the online Western Governors University (WGU) gives Virginia nursing students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing within three years, with the total cost of tuition and fees estimated at $17,000. As of the current academic year, students who have earned a Rappahannock Community College associate degree in nursing, and are employed as registered nurses, can complete nine additional courses (26 credit hours) through WGU online classes to achieve a BSN.

“This new agreement is an exciting option for our RCC graduates, both past and future,” says Charles Smith, RCC’s dean of health sciences. “It affords them a cost-effective and time-efficient option for educational advancement. Given the recent national and state attention to increase the numbers of baccalaureate-prepared nurses in the workforce, this is a clear win-win for all of our graduates.”

VCCS chancellor Dr. Glenn DuBois also comments favorably: “We are excited to be working with Western Governors University to create an affordable pathway to a baccalaureate degree. And we think this could be just the beginning of our relationship with WGU. This could be a blueprint for offering similar baccalaureate opportunities in other high-demand fields such as information technology, business, and other healthcare-related programs. Virginia’s community colleges were created to address Virginia’s unmet needs in higher education and workforce training. Higher education costs have become one of those needs and this agreement is an important part of the solution.”

Opening in 1999 as a private institution, WGU was created by 19 United States governors who worked together for the purpose of expanding access to higher education through competency-based online degree programs. WGU currently serves more than 34,000 students from all 50 states, and has created subsidiaries in partnership with Indiana, Washington, and Texas. Its president, Dr. Robert Mendenhall, says, “This agreement represents the way WGU can complement state higher education systems by providing affordable, flexible pathways for working adults to earn high-quality degrees with value in the workplace.”

“This new pathway to a nursing degree offers a tremendous value for students and future healthcare professionals,” affirms Laura Fornash, Virginia’s secretary of education. “Making college more affordable and accessible has been a priority for this administration, and [this agreement] represents a significant step towards that goal.”

The agreement with WGU is the latest of more than 30 statewide guaranteed admissions agreements between the VCCS and public and private universities, but this is the first that was created with the specific goal of keeping the total cost of a bachelor’s degree under $20,000.

Further information on VCCS transfer agreements can be found at the Virginia Education Wizard website, www.vawizard.org.

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