Colleges Create Tuition-Free Pathways for Transfer Students


Tuition-free college? It sounds too good to be true, but for some transfer students in Wisconsin and Oregon, it will soon be a reality.

Portland State University’s “Transfers Finish Free” program will start in fall 2018. The program will cover base tuition and mandatory fees for up to 15 credits per term to eligible transfer students, according to the university.

To be eligible for the program, students must be a current resident of Oregon, be admitted to PSU as a transfer student with a 2.5 or higher cumulative GPA, be eligible to receive a Pell Grant, and enroll full-time at PSU.

“We don’t want any deserving transfer student to be turned away from an opportunity to obtain a college degree because of their financial status,” John Fraire, PSU’s vice president for enrollment management and student services, said in a news release.

PSU does not plan to cap the number of students eligible for free tuition through the initiative

The University of Wisconsin-Madison introduced a similar program this month.

Under this program, called “Bucky’s Tuition Promise,” UW-Madison will cover two years of tuition and fees for transfer students from Wisconsin who come from families with annual household incomes of less than $56,000.

More than two-thirds of US colleges view transfer students as considerably important in meeting enrollment goals, according to NACAC’s 2017 State of College Admission report. These new programs represent a unique approach to meeting this population’s specific needs during the admission process.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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