MATTOON -- Students who complete coursework at both Lake Land College and Eastern Illinois University now have a simpler way in which to combine their credits to earn an associate's degree at Lake Land.

A Lake Land press release reported that an agreement between the two institutions has established a process known as reverse transfer that will assist eligible students in transferring coursework from Eastern to Lake Land to complete requirements for their associate's.

Those eligible are Eastern students who previously attended (or who are also attending) Lake Land and who have earned 32 credit hours or more through the college but have not yet earned their associate's.

Eastern Registrar Amy Lynch said the university will first identify eligible students, then send them letters offering the opportunity to opt in to the reverse transfer process. Those interested need only give their written authorization, and the two institutions will do the rest.

Once authorization is received, Eastern will send copies of the students’ transcripts to Lake Land at the completion of each semester. Lake Land, in turn, will review those transcripts and determine which newly earned credits, if any, can be applied toward an associate's. There is no additional fee charged to the students for the process.

“The overall goal is to help students who complete courses at both Lake Land and Eastern to combine their courses and have them recognized through an associate degree at Lake Land,” said college President Josh Bullock. “We want to award students credentials where credentials are due by making sure that they know they can transfer courses from Eastern to Lake Land for degree completion.”

Eastern President Bill Perry said such collaborations have contributed to the strength of East Central Illinois.

“We’re in a partnership that is great for Coles County and the area in general,” Perry said. “Arrangements like these are what keep graduates in our area, which in turn, contributes to the vibrant communities and economy in our region and throughout the state. This is an agreement that will benefit everybody involved.”

Jordan Boerngen a former Lake Land student and current Eastern student from Mason, completed her associate's at Lake Land and transferred to Eastern for her bachelor’s degree. Boerngen said she was able to afford school and stay close to home, two priorities for her, by attending these institutions.

“Both Lake Land and EIU made it so I could begin my degree at LLC and walk right into my junior year at Eastern,” Boerngen said. “Looking back, if I hadn’t completed by associate degree and simply transferred first, I would have liked the option for my EIU courses to count for my associate degree. This is a very student-focused initiative.”

Bullock said associate's completion is valuable for students who are also pursuing a bachelor’s because it gives them a credential that can open employment opportunities for them, which further gives them real-world experience and can help them financially afford to complete their last two years of a bachelor’s.

More information about the reverse transfer process is available by contacting Counseling Services at Lake Land at 217-234-5232, or the Office of Transfer Relations at Eastern at 217-581-2120 or transfer@eiu.edu.

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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