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Implementing a 2018 law to create a common college transcript system for the University of Wyoming and the state’s community colleges will cost $1.5 million in initial funding, according to a report presented Tuesday to the Legislature’s Joint Education Committee.

The report — created by staff from UW, community colleges and the Wyoming Community College Commission — also recommends the committee back $419,000 in annual funding to keep the program going.

The common transcript system would create an electronic record equally valid at any of the state’s eight public institutions of higher learning. Courses at all institutions would share a common course numbering system and classes taken at one college would automatically be transferred to UW.

While many students transfer from a college to the university without a hitch, some courses completed at community colleges are not yet recognized by the university system, meaning some transfer students must retake courses in order to graduate.

Much of the proposed expenses come in the efforts to establish course equivalency and common course numbers.

The working group is requesting $635,000 for “one-time costs for electronic course catalog software and curriculum process management software.”

That software is also expected to have $195,000 in annual maintenance costs.

New personnel also account for a substantial amount of the funding requests.

In the first year, the working group recommends distributing $470,000 among three contracted employees to create the new common transcript system.

By the third year of project, that cost would shrink to $110,000, paying for a permanent security expert to oversee the program.

That position, Caldwell said, is necessary to meet the numerous legal requirements of handling students’ data.

While the 2018 law mandates the new system “be developed by July 1, 2019,” the working group’s report recommends a three-year implementation cycle to recognize “that various solutions would have to be installed incrementally.”

In October, the state took a major step forward in implementing the law when UW entered into a 10-party memorandum of understanding to share data among the state’s educational organizations.

“That took a lot of work. That’s a foundational component of all of this working,” WCCC executive director Sandy Caldwell said Tuesday.

One major hiccup with course transferring is the community and technical education programs offered by community colleges. Those CTE courses generally don’t transfer to UW, which doesn’t have degree programs for CTE students to continue their work.

To remedy that, UW chief enrollment administrator Kyle Moore said UW will work on adding new degree programs that can accommodate CTE students.

The new data transfer system, Caldwell said, would also make it easier for UW courses to transfer back to community colleges and grant students associate degrees.

“That will have a big impact on our retainment goals,” Caldwell said.

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