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Pennsylvania Gives Credit to College Transfer System

A two-year-old college credit transfer system in the state of Pennsylvania is proving successful. According to a report issued by the state, credits transferred in 2009 alone saved students about $35 million in "credit transfer taxes," the cost of having to pay to retake a course already taken but not accepted for transfer by the student's new college. The program was created by state legislation in 2006 and implemented in fall 2008.

The state has also seen an increase of 13 percent in the number of students transferring from Pennsylvania community colleges to universities participating in the program and an increase of 9 percent in the total number of credits transferred.

The new system allows a student to transfer up to 30 credits of foundation courses and apply them toward degree requirements of nearly any major offered by participating colleges, including two private institutions. Thirty-two state colleges and universities worked together to identify the foundation courses that would transfer among them.

The state contracted with AcademyOne to create a transfer tool to help students select foundation courses for transfer. The company develops applications to help institutions coordinate their efforts across institutions. The tool encompasses

Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center, the Web site where the tool resides online, contains information about courses in six areas, including English composition, public speaking, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, and fine arts and humanities. These courses are typically tackled by students in the first two years of their four-year degree programs. The site also provides links to college and university Web sites, catalog descriptions for courses, transfer policies, and other related information.

"The greatest impact for community colleges has been the increase in awareness of transferability to [Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education] universities among our students," said Art Scott, president of Pennsylvania's Bethlehem-based Northampton Community College in the report. "The legislation has helped to counter myths about community colleges not transferring."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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