PENDLETON --- Officials from Tri-County Technical College and Columbia College officially signed a formal agreement today (November 18) that will enable Tri-County graduates to complete their bachelor's degree through Columbia College in the evenings on Tri-County's campus at a significantly discounted tuition rate.

Tri-County President Ronnie L. Booth and Columbia College President Elizabeth A. (Beth) Dinndorf signed an Associate's to Bachelor's Degree Program Agreement allowing Tri-County graduates to earn a bachelor's degree in Health Communications in two years on Tri-County's Pendleton Campus.

 This is the first time Tri-County has signed a partnership agreement of this type with a private college.  This agreement creates pathways that will allow associate degree graduates to go on to earn a bachelor's degree without loss of time, credits or money.

Individuals accepted into the program would pay just over half the cost of tuition paid by traditional day students attending part time at the campus in Columbia.  Tri-County graduates would pay $385 per credit hour instead of Columbia's $725 per credit hour.  

            The program will initially provide for Tri-County graduates of health-related associate's degrees, such as Pre-Pharmacy, Pre-Veterinary, Veterinary Technology and Associate Degree Nursing, to earn a Columbia College bachelor's degree in Health Communications. The degree will be valuable for those already working in the health care field. Additional bachelor's degree programs may be added at a later date.

"At Tri-County, we are committed to increasing access to higher education for the citizens of Anderson, Oconee and Pickens counties, including access to a bachelor's degree by way of applied associate degrees in our career programs," said Dr. Booth.  "Many of our students complete a two-year applied associate degree in a career program so they are prepared for immediate entry into the workforce.  We have made a concerted effort to create pathways that will allow them to go on to earn a bachelor's degree, should they choose to do so, without loss of time, credits or money," he said.

"With this agreement signed, a Columbia College Bachelor's Degree will be accessible, affordable and available to our graduates, right here in Pendleton."

"I am very excited about this partnership with Tri-County Technical College to offer an Associate's to Bachelor's Degree Program," said President Dinndorf.  "Since 1980, working adults have been coming to Columbia College in the evening or on weekends to attend classes and earn their degrees. But we realized there was a need beyond our campus.  We know our state's technical colleges provide a valuable educational experience, and we wanted to provide a convenient opportunity for those students to continue their education and earn a bachelor's degree," she said.

"You will find that one of the hallmarks of Columbia College is our faculty, who are genuinely committed to the success of every experience I'm sure students have at Tri-County Technical College," she added.

Financial aid and tuition will be handled through Columbia College, who will have a faculty member and program coordinator on the Pendleton Campus on evenings that classes will be held (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6 - 9 p.m.).

"The Columbia College Associate's to Bachelor's Degree Program at Tri-County Technical College meets students where they are - physically and educationally. It is a great partnership that allows students to further their education in their local community within an educational environment they are already comfortable in," said Kristen Karasek, director of the Bridge Programs and Educational Partnerships at Tri-County Technical College.

Applications are being accepted now for the program that will begin in January 2016.  For more information, contact Kristen Karasek, director of the Bridge Programs and Educational Partnerships at Tri-County Technical College at 646-1683 or