BOSTON, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — Governor Deval Patrick today joined UMass Amherst Chancellor Robert C. Holub and Roxbury Community College (RCC) President Terrence A. Gomes to announce the launch of the Community College Connection program. Under this program, new community college graduates from across the state can receive exclusive financial benefits, including a tuition discount, as well as priority services designed to make it easy for them to complete a bachelor’s degree at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

“The Community College Connection provides students with critical support to bolster their chances at success,” said Governor Patrick. “I commend the leadership at UMass and our Community Colleges for enthusiastically embracing this wonderful opportunity to collaborate.”

“We take seriously our historic mission of access as the Commonwealth’s land-grant university,” said Chancellor Holub. “Facilitating the enrollment of community college graduates in today’s world is one way to guarantee that access. We want students here at Roxbury and community colleges across Massachusetts to envision a future at UMass Amherst, the state’s flagship public university and one of the nation’s premier research institutions.”

“We believe that our students should be given every chance to reach their full potential,” said RCC President Gomes. “The UMass Amherst Community College Connection will provide vital resources that our students need to remain engaged in the higher educational process, and this program represents an extension of the RCC mission by helping our students enhance the quality of their lives and our community. We applaud UMass for providing all Massachusetts community college students with this unique opportunity.”

The UMass Amherst Community College Connection (UMCCC) will begin in fall 2011. Holub noted that transfers from state community colleges are already an essential part of the UMass Amherst community, and he wants to strengthen those successful ties. Currently, more than 500 community college graduates transfer to UMass Amherst each fall. Nine out of 10 of these students continue into their second year, and seven out of 10 graduate with a UMass Amherst bachelor’s degree.

As part of the announcement, three UMass Amherst students who are community college graduates shared their success stories and participated in a panel discussion:

•Erik Ssebanakitta emigrated from Uganda to the United States and earned an associate’s degree from Bunker Hill Community College in Boston. He transferred to UMass Amherst, receiving a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 2010. Today, he is continuing his studies at UMass Amherst, where he is a Ph.D. student in computer science.
•Manuel Pires emigrated from Cape Verde to the United States and received an associate’s degree from Roxbury Community College in Boston. He transferred to UMass Amherst, earning a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering in 2010. Currently, he is pursuing a master’s degree in civil engineering at UMass Amherst.
•Katelin Conti of Haverhill completed her associate degree studies at Northern Essex Community College. She transferred to UMass Amherst and is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in linguistics.
UMCC is for community college graduates pursuing admission through the existing Joint Admissions or MassTransfer programs who complete their associate’s degree with a cumulative grade point average of 2.5 or higher. These students are guaranteed general admission to UMass Amherst, with applications processed before those of other transfer students.

These students will be eligible for the following benefits:

•A 100 percent reduction of in-state tuition ($1,714) for students who graduate from a community college with a GPA of 3.0 or higher and meet other selected requirements.
•Special scholarships, including funds to purchase books.
•Priority review of financial aid packages before those of other transfer students.
•Housing advantages: UMass will hold 50 spots in on-campus housing. Beyond this, students will have priority over all other transfer students in their request for on-campus housing.
•Priority advising and course registration in early June that allows for course registration before all other new students.
•Special advising by college deans during the first year at UMass Amherst.
•Transition seminars for transfers into the College of Engineering and the Isenberg School of Management during the first semester at UMass Amherst.

Further details are available at a special website, .