About the Problem

It is too difficult for college students to transfer credits between schools.

About the Policy

Establish standardized measures for course requirements to make it easier for students to transfer course credits between different schools. The Department of Education, in consultation and cooperation with state education boards and accreditation boards, can create standards of instruction for specific courses whose course credits would be fully transferable among schools of higher education.

Public Support

83% of All Polled
86% of Democrats
79% of Republicans
82% of Independents

Polling data derived from three national surveys conducted by Cohen Research Group in February and March 2016. Each survey had a sample size of at least 1,000 registered voters with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%

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A major obstacle for many college students is the difficulty of transferring college credits. 

Close to one third of students transfer colleges at least once within six years of enrolling in school. Many of these transfer students come from two-year community colleges and are beginning their bachelors’ degree at a less expensive community college before getting the degree from a college or university.  This higher education path is a common one: about 40 percent of all of America’s undergraduate students are enrolled at community colleges, and 81 percent of these students aim to receive a four-year bachelor’s degree, according to a study conducted by the American Educational Research Association (AERA). 

Unfortunately, the process of transferring credits is complex and holds many students back, even forcing some to delay or drop their studies all together. According to a report by the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics, 39 percent of students who transferred colleges lost all of their previously earned credits in the process. When the students lose their hard-earned progress they are forced to spend precious financial resources and time making up previously earned credits, making it more difficult to graduate.

To rectify this, the federal government should establish standardized measures for course requirements to make it easier for students to transfer course credits between different schools. According AERA, students who are able to keep all or almost all of their credits from their previous school are 2.5 times more likely to earn a bachelor’s degree than students who lost at least half of their credits during the transfer process. Establishing standardized measures for course requirements will ease the transfer process, remove financial and time burdens from students, and prevent transfers from taking out costly student loans to pay for credits they’ve already earned.