Do Community College Credits Transfer Out of State [2021 Guide]

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If you’re planning to jump from your local community college to a four-year university on the other side of the country, you may ask, “Do community college credits transfer out of state?”

Community College Credits

It is possible to transfer community college credits to a college in another state. It’s not always a straightforward process that’s consistent from one school to the next, though.

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To receive as much value from your junior college classes as possible, it’s beneficial to plan ahead, ask questions, compare curriculum lists, and choose your courses based on your future goals.

Do Community College Credits Transfer Out of State?

Community College Credits Transfer

Yes, there are ways to transfer community college credits to other community colleges or universities, even if you’re switching to an out-of-state school.

You’ll typically have the most luck transferring general education courses rather than an assortment of electives or classes for a particular major. It can be helpful to review the general education core at the school you’re wanting to transfer to.

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In some states, colleges rely on a statewide set of general education guidelines. These general education cores can vary significantly from one state to the next, so your own state’s plan may not have the same requirements as others.

Credits often need to be earned from regionally accredited schools in order to be eligible for transfer. Regional accreditation is respected throughout higher education, and many colleges’ transfer policies accept only accredited courses.

Even if you have 120 college credits but no degree, when you ask to transfer these credits to your new school, they will most likely want to see that the credits were earned at a regionally accredited college.

Transferring from a Community College to an Out of State University

Transferring college credits

Transferring college credits out of state is possible, but the process can get a bit complicated at times. There’s no one set of rules that governs transfers from one school to another. Even within the same state, transfers from one institution to another can be complicated!

The more you learn about the terminology and criteria that are often used in transfer decisions, the more informed you can be. Then you can make more knowledgeable decisions about which classes to take or where to transfer.

General Articulation Agreements

There are instances when community colleges and 4 year universities have worked together before. In these cases, the university already knows which junior college classes are acceptable substitutes for its own courses. This is called an articulation agreement.

Transferable Credits

Transferable College Credits

Even if your two schools haven’t worked out an articulation agreement, you might still receive credit for some of your past work.

Your new school will need to go through your transcripts course by course to determine which ones sufficiently align with the curriculum for your bachelor’s program.

General Education Requirements

Some states have established a core set of courses that can be taken at a community college and transferred elsewhere. These requirements may be fairly similar from one state to the next, but they probably won’t be exactly the same.

In the chart below, you can see how much more closely the Illinois and Missouri statewide articulation guides resemble one another compared to the Ohio plan.

Illinois Missouri Ohio
Communications 9 credit hours of writing and speech 9 credit hours of writing and speech 3 credit hours of writing
Humanities and Fine Arts 9 credit hours 9 credit hours 6 credit hours
Mathematics 3 to 5 credit hours 3 credit hours 3 credit hours of mathematics, statistics, or logic
Natural Sciences 7 to 8 credit hours, including at least one lab credit 7 credit hours, including at least one lab credit 6 credit hours
Social and Behavioral Sciences 9 credit hours 9 credit hours, including one civics class 6 credit hours
Total Credits 37 to 41 credit hours 42 credit hours (requires electives) 36 to 40 credit hours (requires electives)

More of your credits are likely to transfer if your coursework aligns with the receiving state’s general education core.

Accreditation

Community college accreditation

The most likely credits to transfer are those that come from regionally accredited colleges. Regional accreditation is recognized nationwide as a hallmark of a good education.

Communication is a key principle for pursuing an out of state transfer. The more information you gather and the more questions you ask, the easier the transfer process may be.

How to Transfer Community College Credits to an Out of State University

How to Transfer Community College Credits

In general, the process of transferring credits from a community college to an out-of-state school works much like any other college transfer.

The steps typically look something like this:

  1. Review the school’s transfer policies. Review the transfer policies, including minimum grade requirements, for the school you hope to attend.
  2. See if your credits meet the criteria. Check whether the courses on your community college transcript appear to meet the criteria.
  3. Reach out to the registrar’s office. Reach out to the registrar’s office at the new university to inquire further about transfer eligibility.
  4. Apply to the new school. Apply to the 4 year institution and await your acceptance letter.
  5. Submit your transcripts. Submit official transcripts of your past work to the college for evaluation.
  6. Await the school’s decision. Receive word of how many credits have been accepted for transfer.

There are two key things to remember when it comes to out-of-state transfers.

First, the process might take longer than it would for an in-state transfer. Non-local colleges are less likely to have prearranged articulation agreements with your community college. Your new school may have to carefully evaluate the content of each course you’ve taken.

Also, the general education requirements in your new state might be quite different than your current school’s requirements. So, even if you have completed your current school’s gen ed classes, that might not be the case in another state.

Are Community College Credits Transferable?

Community College Credits Transferable

Yes, the classes that you take at an accredited community college will often be eligible for transferable credit.

Sometimes, credits transfer smoothly from one school to another because the two institutions have articulation agreements with each other. An articulation agreement means that the four-year school has agreed to automatically accept certain classes—or even entire associate degrees—from the community college.

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In other instances, the four-year college must review each class on your transcript individually to determine which ones qualify for transfer credits.

How Long Are Credits Good for at a Community College?

Many community college credits from an accredited school stay good indefinitely. For example, a composition class that you took years ago is probably still relevant today, so you may be able to transfer that credit to another institution.

Not all subjects boast such longevity, though. Coursework in some fields can quickly become outdated. When it comes to classes related to technology, engineering, or even some types of science, the credits might lose their value within 10 years or less.

Can You Go to a Community College in a Different State?

Community College in a Different State

Yes, you are welcome to enroll at a community college that’s far away from your hometown. If you find an out-of-state community college appealing, you could consider applying there.

The credits you earn might later be transferrable to a 4 year university in your home state or elsewhere. Transfer policies differ from one college to the next, but you can always inquire about how many credits you can bring with you to a new school.

Do Community Colleges Charge Out of State Tuition?

Community Colleges State Tuition

Yes, just like most state universities, it’s common for community colleges to charge higher tuition rates to out-of-state students. Even in-state students who live outside of a community college’s immediate district might pay more to attend there.

Even still, you might find it cheaper to enroll at an out-of-state community college than an in-state four-year university. If you pay attention to how transfer policies can affect your plans, starting at a community college may be a money-saving move.

Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree Online

Getting Your Bachelor’s Degree Online

Community college may have provided an affordable start for your higher education, but you might be ready to do a college transfer now.

Even if you have your eye on an out-of-state school, you may be able to transfer some of your community college credits to your new institution. This can be especially valuable when it comes to online education. Distance learning allows you to take courses from an out-of-state school without ever leaving home.

So, if you find that you have a lot of college credits but no degree, by transferring your community college credits to an accredited online college, you might be able to wrap up your studies more quickly and graduate with your bachelors degree.

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Jordan Meeks
WRITTEN BY
Jordan Meeks
Jordan is pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Policy and earned her Master of Business Administration in Strategic Management and her Bachelor's in Business Administration. Jordan's research focuses on adults returning to college and online degree programs.