Report: PA College Credit Transfer System Makes Higher Education More Affordable, Accessible

Apr 29, 2010, 09:37 ET from Pennsylvania Department of Education

Students Saved $35.4 Million by Not Having to Retake Courses

ABINGTON, Pa., April 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Thousands of college transfer students from across Pennsylvania have benefited from a new, statewide system designed to maximize the number of credits they can transfer and count towards a college degree, according to a new report announced today by Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak.

The report on the Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System revealed that in 2009 alone, students saved nearly $35.4 million by having their transferred credits count towards a degree.

The report also shows that since 2007, there has been a 15 percent increase in the number of students transferring from Pennsylvania community colleges to the universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, or PASSHE. In 2006, Governor Edward G. Rendell signed into law Act 114, which required all community colleges and PASSHE schools to identify a minimum of 30 credits that would be guaranteed to transfer between schools.  

"Our new transfer system has made college more accessible to thousands of students while helping to reduce the cost of earning a degree," Dr. Zahorchak said. "The new system was essential because many students earn credits at multiple institutions over many years as they work toward a degree."

"The new law has clearly worked to make college more affordable and accessible for Pennsylvania students," said Rep. Josh Shapiro, the author of the transfer language in Act 114.  "Prior to Act 114, college credits were not fully transferable and students were often forced to pay to retake – and pay for - classes when they changed schools."

As part of the new law, the state established the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center (PA TRAC) website at The site allows users to search for transferable courses, find information about participating institutions and get step-by-step instructions for transfer credits.

"As stewards of the public higher education system in the Commonwealth, the PASSHE university presidents and I are committed to assuring that students have access to a quality education at an affordable cost," PASSHE Chancellor Dr. John Cavanaugh said. "We believe that means ensuring that students can transfer seamlessly from community colleges to any of the 14 PASSHE universities."

Thirty-two institutions have guaranteed credit transfers through PA TRAC. Three private institutions and one state-related university also participate. Penn State, Temple and Pitt will join Lincoln University and the Pennsylvania College of Technology in the credit transfer system starting this fall.

"When a transfer student has to repeat at their new college the same class they took at their previous college it not only costs them extra, it costs extra for the taxpayers who support students' education at the 14 state-owned colleges and universities," said Sen. Andy Dinniman, Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee. "This study shows that Pennsylvania's transfer and articulation program is working – it's facilitating the process for students, it's saving taxpayers' money and it should be expanded."

The report shows that transferring college credits used to be time consuming, frustrating and often unsuccessful as students learned to their dismay that credits taken – and paid for – at one institution were not accepted at another.

"Thanks to this law, the 'tuition tax' has been repealed," Shapiro said. "Last year we passed another law I authored, and introduced by Senator Dinniman, to expand the credit-sharing agreements from 30 to 60 credits to make it even easier and more affordable for students to get a college degree in Pennsylvania."

The new system created a "Transfer Credit Framework," which is a list of courses that represents the type of coursework that is generally completed during the first and second year of a student's bachelor degree program.  Students can transfer up to 30 credits, or 10 courses, of Framework courses to any of the participating institutions and have those credits count toward their degree.

"As the son of my late, single, working mother, I understand the struggles of working your way through college; for this reason, I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to push through this important articulation law," Rep. Tom Houghton said. "I applaud the many community colleges and state universities that work together to make this dream a reality for young men and women, and thank my colleagues for helping to ensure that a college degree is attainable by all, regardless of income level."

Transfer and articulation systems like Pennsylvania's are becoming a critical tool in boosting the number of adults who earn college degrees, as more students attend multiple colleges on their path to a degree. Nationwide, six in ten college students attend more than one college or university before graduating with a bachelor's degree, and two-thirds of transfer students change schools in order to graduate with a more prestigious degree or to access a degree program not offered at their current school.

"PASSHE, along with our community college colleagues, have been key drivers in the development and implementation of the Pennsylvania College Credit Transfer System, which already has provided great benefit to students and their families," Chancellor Cavanaugh said. "We look forward to continuing to work with the community colleges and other members of the higher education community in Pennsylvania to ensure students get the credits they deserve when they transition from one institution to another and that they all count toward their eventual degree completion. This is just another way that students are PASSHE's first and highest priority."

For more information on Pennsylvania's higher education initiatives, visit the Department of Education Web site at

To view the report, visit

Media contact: Leah Harris, 717-783-9802

SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Education