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Washington Two-Year College System Aims to Branch Out into Bachelors

The pressure to obtain a higher level degree is more prevalent than ever. Schools all over the country are scrambling to find ways to deal with the high demand, and in Washington State college system officials have decided to deal with the problem by beefing up their community and trade schools with brand-new baccalaureate options.

The state's community college system hasn't dealt strictly in associate degrees and certificates for some time, largely because of partnerships with public universities that maintain branches on the two-year campuses. But now community college officials say their own missions have to evolve further.

By 2018, the state's 34-college system wants to be producing 1,900 applied bachelor's degrees every year -- up from the roughly 140 produced by just seven colleges now.

This plan is not without its opposition, of course -- the state is faced with a $5.8 billion deficit to contend with over the next legislative term, and lawmakers are eager to make budget cuts rather than pony up the ambitious funds that such school expansions would demand. This puts quite a damper on the expectations of the school officials, but many retain hope that some sort of compromise can be met within the next decade.

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