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How to Transfer Colleges Without Losing Credit

Abigail Endsley
Abigail Endsley

August 11, 2017

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This is the second part of a two-part series on transferring colleges without losing credit. Click here to read the first post, Why Won’t My Credit Transfer?

Bad news for transfer students: according to the National Center for Education Statistics (1), you have a 70% chance of losing some or all of your previously earned credit during your college transfer (costing you thousands of dollars in lost credit).

This is largely due to broken transfer policies that you have no control over.

While you unfortunately can’t control what transfer credit colleges accept, you can control what credit you transfer and which college you transfer it into.

By making the right choices early on, it’s absolutely possible to transfer colleges without losing a single credit.

These 5 steps will teach you how to do just that.

If you already have transfer credit…

Your first step to earning a bachelor’s degree is knowing which degree you want. Once you know the degree you want, you can choose which college to earn it from.

This is one of the most important steps for students who already have transfer credit.

1. Investigate transfer policies before enrolling.

Every college has published policies indicating what transfer credit they will accept. Take these policies into account when choosing where you want to graduate.

How to check if a college will accept your credit:

  1. Request an unofficial transcript from your previous college (for details of your credit).
  2. On your future college’s website, locate the most recent academic catalog.
  3. Compare the credit you have (as listed on your transcript) to the school’s catalog. Take note of which of your transfer courses match courses the school offers by comparing course codes, titles, prerequisites, and descriptions. This is the credit your future college will accept.
  4. Accepted credit isn’t always the same as applicable credit. So next, locate your desired degree’s requirements (posted online as well). Does the degree you want have room for your accepted transfer credit? You may think, “If my college accepts the credit, why do I need to check the specific degree, as well?” The fact that your desired college accepts your transfer credit in general, doesn’t necessarily mean that those credits all apply to your particular degree program’s specific requirements. So be sure not to skip this step!
  5. Now do a search on the website for the school’s Transfer Policy to discover:
    • How much transfer credit they accept, and
    • What kind of transfer credit they accept.

If you have questions, direct them to the school’s registrar. (The registrar is usually the one to transcribe credit for transfer students, so they’ll be able to help.)

2. Choose a transfer-friendly school.

Colleges commonly accept between 15 and 90 transfer credits. So it’s worth shopping around to find a college that will accept all your transfer credit.

This may mean choosing something “less impressive” than the college you had in mind. If that’s the case, examine your priorities. Do you really want to spend time and money re-earning credit from an “impressive” school when you can use credit you’ve already earned somewhere else? As long as the college you choose is regionally accredited, you can rest easy knowing it’s a fine choice.

Need ideas for where to start? [Check out these 10 colleges with the most flexible transfer policies.]

If you don’t have transfer credit…

Earning transfer credit (through community college or a program like Unbound) is a great way to save money on your bachelor’s degree. But only if you proceed with caution.

If this is your plan, keep these steps in mind.

3. Know where you’re graduating from.

Colleges evaluate transfer credit based on their requirements, not your previous school’s.

For example: unless your community college has an articulation agreement with a specific school, a 60-credit associate’s degree probably won’t count as 60 credits toward your bachelor’s at another school. They simply have different requirements.

Use community college or online course providers as a way to find and take courses for your future degree. Don’t bother with a community college’s "graduation requirements.”

(Use the method in tip #1 to compare the courses your future college offers to the courses you want to take. This strategy allows for a much more successful credit transfer.)

4. Stick to general education and elective courses.

Most colleges require that students take major-specific courses from their school and nowhere else. If you’re planning to transfer colleges, hold off on these courses.

Stick to earning general education courses and free electives for now. (These classes have a higher chance of transferring into your future college.)

Whether you have transfer credit or want it…

5. Enlist professional help.

How much of your precious time do you want to dedicate to this process? Save time and hassle by letting us help.

Our Central Registrar’s Office has worked with over 800 colleges across the United States. We’ve already done the transfer credit research you need, and can guide you through this process.

Unbound will help you choose the best school for your goals. (Since we aren’t affiliated with any college, we’re free to give unbiased college advice.)

Then we’ll help you build a Degree Plan (taking into account the transfer credit you have). This plan will be tailored to the school you want to graduate from.

If you’d like to earn more transfer credit, you can do so with our own affordable online course options. These courses can help you save thousands of dollars on your degree.

When you’re ready, we’ll help you transfer all your credit into your college—without losing a single one.

Click here to get a free Degree Plan (no obligation) to find out how much time and money you can save on your degree. (If you’d like to continue with Unbound from there, fantastic! If not, your Degree Plan is yours to keep.)

Best of luck in your transfer journey!



Abigail Endsley
Abigail Endsley

A former student counselor and Unbound student, Abigail is passionate about empowering others to achieve their goals. When she’s not dreaming with her friends, you can find her reading or singing Broadway songs. Loudly.

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