7 Considerations to Make When Transferring Schools


Numerous students transfer to another college and complete their degree program each year. Wanting to be closer to home, changing your major, not seeing the current school as good fit, and financial issues often factor into a transfer decision.

Before making a final decision, students should consider the following:

Bill at Current School
Review your account status with the billing/bursar department and financial aid office. If your account still has a balance due, make payment arrangements. You want to avoid having the bill turned over to a collections agency and additional fees added to your account. When leaving a school, you will also want an official academic transcript for your next school.

Placement Testing and Transfer Credits – Community College
Having earned college-level coursework can potentially assist in not needing to take the community college placement/assessment tests. Some community colleges will accept unofficial transcripts to consider waiving the need to take the placement/assessment tests before you sign up for classes. However, the official transcript is needed to transfer credit to your new school. Please check the community college’s website or contact them for their transfer credit evaluation policy.

Work and School Balance
If you are planning to remain a full-time college student, working more than 20 hours a week can impact your grades. Are you now going to work full-time and go to school part-time? If so, taking one or two classes maximum per semester gives you a better chance to balance school and work.

Academic Decisions
Are you planning to keep the same major or change your career path? Do you want to earn a college certificate and a degree? Some community colleges have certificates you can earn that also count towards degree requirements. The certificate may help you obtain a better job while you are still working towards completing a degree. If you plan to transfer to a four-year school, consider associates of arts and associates of science degrees versus associates of applied science degrees, which typically have less transfer options. Review these options when talking to an academic advisor.

State Residency Requirements – Community College
Check with the registrars/records office about state residency requirements. You do not want to assume you are still a state resident after being away from home for a while. In addition, some community colleges have different tuition rates for in-state, in-county, and out-of-state students. Checking this up front can allow you to prepare for community college costs.

Cost of Attendance at Your New School
When will your new school review your potential transfer credits? Will your new school consider you an in-state or out-of-state resident? This will affect the time it will take to graduate and the costs of going to another school. Before making a final transfer school decision, please check on the Cost of Attendance (COA) at your potential new school. This information will come from the financial aid office. The items to check are the tuition and fees, room and board if you are staying on campus or an apartment nearby, and books and supplies. Then also review the Cost of Attendance for the miscellaneous and travel expenses. This will assist you know how much your new school will cost.

Financial Aid Available
Is your new school less expensive, more expensive, or are you not sure yet? Don’t make any assumptions. You may be leaving one school for financial reasons and run into the same challenge again. Is your possible new school eligible for the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG)? If so, log into the DC ONeApp system and complete the school transfer process. Make sure your potential new school is added to your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the financial aid award letter is prepared for your review before making a final transfer decision.

Kenneth McGhee is the director of the DC Tuition Assistance Grant Program (DCTAG) within the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) in Washington, DC. OSSE is a NACAC member organization.