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State Policy Center: Ensuring Credit Transfer to Meet the Promise of Early College Opportunities

While many states offer opportunities for high school students to earn postsecondary credit before graduation, these policies do not always guarantee that these earned credits will transfer meaningfully towards a student’s future degree or educational pathway. 

Ensuring that credits actually transfer with students as intended is critical to fulfilling the promise of early college credit: to decrease the overall cost and time to earn a postsecondary degree.  Transfer credit is not only an issue for high school dual and concurrent enrollment students. Many postsecondary students face difficulty transferring credits or full degrees during their academic career. According to a nationwide analysis by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, more than one-third of first-time college students transfer schools over a six-year period. In the process, they lose an average of 43% of their college credits when transferring between postsecondary institutions.  

States have addressed credit transfer policies in many different ways, and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to credit transfer policy. All4Ed offers model policies below that: 

  • Create a 30-credit sequence of courses that are guaranteed to transfer to all public state postsecondary universities as general education requirements once a student has successfully completed the sequence. This would allow guaranteed transfer between high school and postsecondary education, as well as from one institution, such as a community college, to another, such as a four-year university, without requiring a student to have a completed associates degree.  
  • Develop multiple postsecondary credit sequences that allow students to lock into a guaranteed 30 transfer credits (as detailed above) or to complete 15 postsecondary credits and additional transferable credits towards an industry-recognized credential or apprenticeship program.  
  • Publish transparent, user-friendly information about how all early college courses (e.g., AP/IB, dual and concurrent enrollment) transfer into the state’s public postsecondary universities so students and families can make informed decisions upon enrollment. Additionally, such a system can be used to broadly provide information on transfer to postsecondary students throughout the state’s public community colleges and universities.  



A model policy to establish transferable credit sequences that ensure postsecondary credit earned in high school meaningfully transfer to postsecondary and through any future postsecondary transfer.

Click HERE to download

Establishment of a College Core for Sequenced Credit Transfer

A model policy that builds on Indiana’s successful College Core, creating the foundation for state policymakers and other relevant education stakeholders to build a transferable core of general education courses that are transferable to and among state public higher education institutions.

Click HERE to download

Establishment of A Course Transfer List 

A model policy that provides for a transparent list of postsecondary courses that are transferable between state postsecondary institutions, including courses available for dual/concurrent enrollment or other early college opportunities available to high school students.

Click HERE to download

Supporting Documents

What Are College and Career Pathways?

There has never been a better time to enter the workplace with the right skills, and never a worse time to have the wrong skills. That’s why high schools are working to make sure students are prepared with both the academics and the job skills they need to be successful after graduation.

Click HERE to read more.

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

Evidence demonstrates the power of dual enrollment to increase postsecondary enrollment and completion. But it has an Achilles heel: credit transfer. 

Click HERE to read more.

Featured Resources

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