According to data from the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center, more than one-third of college students transfer schools before graduating with a degree. Transferring schools can be a huge decision, but it might be the best one for you.
As you weigh your options and consider the pros and cons, it’s also important to think through the financial impacts of transferring schools:
1. You could save money. For many students, the main advantage of transferring schools is the amount of money it can save in annual costs. A common scenario is college students completing their first two years at a community college, and then finishing the second half of their college education at a four-year university. By attending the first two years at a community college, you could save a lot of money and still end up with the same degree. If cost is a major consideration and you’re still making your college plans, attending community college for the first half is certainly worth thinking about. Just make sure you do your homework so you know what credits will transfer and how. If your credits don’t transfer as expected – or at all – it definitely won’t save you time and it may end up not saving you money.
2. It could cost you money. If you’re switching from one public state university to another nearby, you may not see a huge change in cost. However, if you are transferring to a private university, you might see a substantial increase in tuition unless you are receiving scholarship money or award aid to cover the difference. If you’re transferring to a public university in a different state, you’ll be paying the out-of-state price, which could be much higher than your in-state options. There are also moving costs to consider if you’re relocating and ongoing travel expenses for breaks and visits if you’re moving farther from home.
3. Award aid differences. Many college students depend on their award aid to pay for college expenses. Award aid varies by institution, and transferring to a different school will usually affect how much money you’ll receive. If you are relying on an award package you’ve received at your current school, be sure to find out what you’ll be eligible for at your new school before you make any final decisions.
4. Application fees. In the grand scheme of things, an application fee probably won’t make or break your decision to transfer, but it’s still something to plan for. According to U.S. News & World Report, college application fees typically range from $37 to $90 per application. If you’re applying for multiple schools to transfer to, this can quickly add up and potentially cost you a few hundred dollars. Your parents might have even paid these fees the first time around; be sure you know who’s paying for the transfer applications.
5. Indirect costs Even if there are no direct costs of transferring schools, there are still potential indirect costs you may have to consider. For example, are you transferring schools because you’re also transferring programs? If you’re choosing an entirely new path for your education, it could mean starting from scratch. Past courses and credits may not count towards your end goal anymore, and you’ll have to factor in the time and money that went towards those courses. In that case, you may also take longer to finish school, and there are costs associated when you take longer to graduate. The longer you’re in school, the more likely you’ll experience increases in tuition, and you’re putting off starting your career and the salary that comes with it.
Transferring schools can be a big decision regardless of whether it was part of your plan from the very beginning or you’re no longer following the path you thought you would. It may be the obvious choice if it’s going to help you save money, but it can be a little trickier if it will cost you. If you need help covering the cost of your new school, check out the options at College Ave Student Loans to build a private student loan that fits your budget and your life.