Audra Page made a penny-wise decision to start her education at a community college before transferring to Texas State University, but her attempt to overcome an expensive higher education system ended up more frustrating than frugal.
Many have felt her pain: More than half of all college students in Texas are enrolled at community colleges, but the transfer rate to four-year universities is a dismal 28 percent.
Part of the problem, higher education officials say, is the massive tangle of rules - called articulation agreements - that outline how courses transfer and count toward degrees between institutions.
Dominic Chavez, spokesman for the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, said there are "literally thousands and thousands" of articulation agreements between the 50 community college districts and the 38 public universities in Texas. The agreements are not monitored or mandated by the state, and often vary for each school and degree, he said.