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Transferring from a For-Profit Institution to a Not-for-Profit Institution

With the rise in popularity and accessibility of for-profit colleges like University of Phoenix, Capella, DeVry, Keiser and Everest, more students have access to higher education than ever before. However, when these students attempt to transfer, they are often told the credits they have earned thus far cannot be put toward a degree at a not-for-profit institution. They were accepted, they paid tuition, they did the work and they earned their credits…so how can this be?

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The main factor is accreditation. Schools that are regionally accredited include all public and most private non-profit schools as well as some for-profit colleges. Credits earned at institutions with this type of accreditation usually transfer without incident (though it’s at each school’s discretion) but that’s not the case with nationally accredited schools. Despite being completely legitimate, the accreditation institutions in this sect – and the schools under their umbrella – have been criticized by the federal government as well as regionally accredited schools regarding revenue discrepancies, recruiter kickbacks and the amount of correspondence work. Because of this, requests for transfer credits have been largely denied, forcing many would-be transfer students to start their quest for a degree from scratch.

If you are currently attending or are considering enrolling at a for-profit school but are ultimately intending to transfer, do yourself a huge favor and read the fine print before you commit. Find out if the school is accredited (walk away if it’s not) and by what organization. Ask if the credits you earn are transferable and what schools will accept them as soon as possible (follow up with these other schools to be sure). Determine if online courses are weighted the same as those held in the classroom. Inquire if the school has articulation agreements in place with any colleges in the area (community colleges have these as well) to make the transfer easier for all parties involved. Speak to advisors about the transfer success rate and, if possible, former students who have moved on to other institutions to glean some first-hand insight into the process.

Since these institutions are newer to the game, there are going to be some additional hurdles to clear if you’re thinking about transferring but as they become more established, restrictions should ease up. As with all schools, the rules regarding transferring vary from school to school and from student to student; if you know what is required of you and what to expect, however, the process will become instantly simpler.

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Last Reviewed: August 2022