Guide to College Transfer - 2020

Your complete guide to make college transfers easy. Learn about how to transfer college credits from your present institution to the next and much more.

Updated by TCM Staff on 30th September 2020

What is a college transfer?

As self-explanatory as it can get, students transfer colleges and universities to find a better fit with their educational goals, career plans, and personal lives. Almost one-third of all students transfer at least once before graduation for one of the more of the above reasons. The fact that there is an option for college transfer shows the support from the US education system and institutions to their students by providing services involving academics, enrollment, and advising.

But this convenience comes at a cautious cost. There are a lot of factors to be carefully considered like accreditations, college transfer deadlines, transfer credits, student scholarships, tuitions, job placements, best colleges to transfer to, and many more. This college transfer guide helps in understanding how does transfer colleges work.

Reasons for college transfer

Every student at some point in time, has this question pop up, at least once. The question being, should I transfer colleges?

Reasons to transfer colleges could vary from relocation to shifting majors or personal factors.           

Affordability: When the primary intention of a student is to earn well after education, if it is hampered by high tuition costs, there is a very good reason to consider the transfer to. With options like financial aids, on-campus/off-campus part-time jobs, college fees can be made more affordable. 

Transferring from community college to a university: Usually, students select to start their careers at 2-year College mainly to experience college life and later take the responsible decision regarding the majors.

Shifting universities: Reasons for transferring from one 4-year to another 4-year college may be due to

  • Swapping majors - if strong programs aren’t offered in the current college.

  • Economic stress - Could be a sudden financial crunch, could be loss of scholarship or change in loan pay structure.

  • Personal issues – Being unhappy with the social setting is a good enough reason.

Relocation: It's common for military students to transfer colleges due to frequent relocation. The General Issue (GI) bill offers educational services for military students. Relocation can happen to anyone for any number of reasons.

What are college transfer credits?

Students transfer across the colleges all the time; so in order to make sure that the students are being provided just treatment and services for their efforts and achievements in the previous college, the term transfer credits used.

College credits represent educational experiences, courses, degrees or credentials are accepted or not accepted by a receiving institution depending on the accreditation. It is a procedure that is necessary for the transfer of credits to a student from one college or university to another.

How to transfer college credits is the main question.

Questions frequently raised about the college transfer

1. What kind of credits typically will not transfer?

Credits earned at unaccredited institutions, credits for remedial courses (pre-college math, for instance) credits for technical courses generally do not transfer. Yet there are certain colleges that allow transfer credits so one can inquire about it before any further decisions.

2. When should I transfer?

Sooner the better as a delay for more than 2 years can cause a disturbance in the learning cycle as well as difficulties in getting admitted into the colleges. If one transfers in the first year of college, the high school transcript holds more value and helps the student settle easier. For those planning to transfer in the later years, it is necessary to factor in all the scenarios written further down the article.

3. Can I transfer and still graduate in four years? Will all my credits will transfer?

There are a lot of factors involving before this question is answered. If you were set on changing the colleges in the first place and took up courses whose credits are accepted in the desired college, it is easier to graduate within four years. Not all credits can be transferred but it all depends on the college you want and the course transfer.

4. Can I apply to colleges I was previously rejected from?

Yes, one can apply to colleges you were previously rejected from but with extra credentials that can influence the desired college authorities to consider your applications once again as the transfer students can face slight difficulty in getting the admissions done.

5. What do colleges look at when transferring? What is transcript evaluation?

A transcript evaluation is a process in which a student’s new college determines which credits the student earned at their old institution will transfer and how. Students must send their official transcripts from all previously attended institutions to their anticipated school

6. How do I transfer financial aid to another college?

By completing the necessary information as FAFSA, one may hope to get the financial aid as received in the previous college. While private organizations, such as Pearson and the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation offer scholarships to students regardless of the transfer. Some college also offers scholarships, especially to community college students.

Looking for financial aid for college transfer?
Explore Scholarships

7. What are the steps to college transfer?

The whole process is subdivided into three sub-steps:

STEP 1: Creating a list of colleges based on the student’s interest and college policies.

Before a student applies for a credit transfer, he or she is counseled by admission officers of both the institutions to ensure a smooth transfer process. Student's enrollment in a college has to factor in the programs offered by the desired majors, facilities and accreditation.

STEP 2: Collecting transcripts, course descriptions, and syllabi of all the previous courses taken.

The student is checked on the basis of different tests. At each level, the student is evaluated to check whether he or she is eligible for the transfer or not. The student should have a permanent academic record received from each college that they were attending.

STEP 3: Acceptance by evaluation of the credits and the new courses offered.

After clearing all the tests, the student is now eligible for the new college. According to the results, the student's credits are granted. After the procedure, the student is transferred. The student is provided with the required course. In return, the college expects a minimum satisfactory grade from the transfer students.

Tips for prospective college transfer students: 

Add a letter of recommendation with your college transfer application - From not just the high school but from the current college professors as well. It holds enough weight to influence the decision at the prospective college. Learn about how to start a college transfer application.

Decide the major you want to choose and analyze the correlating factors - Factors like location, cost, programs available, housing facilities, rate of transfer, and reputation of the college should also be considered by taking the help of academic and financial advisors from both the colleges.

Check for accreditation and credits transfer - Accreditation is an evaluation to check whether the institutions and programs of study meet certain quality standards. If a student has attended an unaccredited institution, he/she will not only be ineligible to receive the federal aid but also risk losing all the credits during the transfer as most accredited colleges do not accept the coursework completed at unaccredited colleges.

Check with financial aid - Make sure you’ve spoken with a financial aid administrator at the school you hope to attend to get a clear picture of financial aid and make sure to fill out the FAFSA every year.

Gather the required details for your application - If ACT or SAT scores are required for transfer students, you can get the necessary forms to either take the test or to request the scores from the counseling office or by contacting.

  • Check for transfer-friendly colleges by looking for factors like

  • Availability of housing facilities

  • Transfer agreements and orientations

  • Favorable transfer acceptance rates

Advantages of the college transfer

New experiences - When a student attends the same college, the gaining of exposure limits to the wall of the college just one particular college. The students transferring the school can avail of more and better experiences.

Personal growth and clearer goals  - By deciding to transfer a student own up to their choices and pursues growth. The student planning to transfer has to decide the path to choose and avoid. This helps the student to realize their preferences and choose a detailed path to reach the goals.

A new beginning - At some point in time, we stumble and take wrong decisions. But life is all about second chances. You can always regain everything back. Your confidence, your ambitions, and your ability to fulfill your dreams. Every college has a different exposure. The opted college may give new the right start. 


College transfer is a big decision, perhaps even bigger than choosing the first college as transfer confirms and leaves no skepticism about the path one must take. It involves both pros and cons. One must leave behind the social circle and friends, one’s credits may not be transferred at all, new faces and environments might create social anxiety but despite everything, when one decides to transfer weighing all the scenarios, it can be the best decision to take.

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