How To Get Credit for Your Credits


Credit transfer policy is key to getting the most out of your prior education when it comes to degree completion. It seems obvious but few actually take advantage of this important part of completing their degree. You need to know what is really going on and what to do about it.

Buzz Today Hechinger Report: Veteran’s New Battle: Getting Credit for What They Already Know: The only benefit of his time in the military that the university (University of South Florida) conferred was to recognize his basic training by tossing him two credits for physical education…. But it took him longer than it needed to, in part because universities and colleges give veterans so little credit for their training and experience. In addition to time, the problem is costing veterans money to pay for courses about subjects they already know… Universities have generally been reluctant to accept transfer credit from any student…letting students forgo credit means the institutions forgo revenue.

Let’s look at the example of credit transfer in the BUZZ Today data to the right. The way this issue is reported makes it sound like all universities do what happened here, namely reject most of this veteran’s experience. The key phrase is “because universities and colleges give veterans so little credit for their training and experience.” This makes it sound like it is ALL universities and colleges who give veterans so little credit for their training and experience. What this article actually means is that the University of South Florida gave this veteran so little credit (only 2 credits) for his prior training and experience.

Here is what you need to know about this important decision. The college or university that you select has a lot to do with how many credits you will be granted for your prior learning and experience. Most potential students first select the college and then negotiate over how many credits are accepted. This places the prospective student (you) at a severe disadvantage. As the material in the BUZZ Today states, the party you are negotiating with, in this case the university where you are applying, has a strong incentive to grant as few transfer credits as possible. Every credit the university accepts reduces their potential revenue by exactly the same amount. Think of the roles as reversed. How enthusiastic would you be to accept credits if it reduced your revenue?

The point is not that colleges and universities are malicious, it is just that the incentives of the relationship are not in the favor of the applying student. You need to change the odds to your favor.

So what is the solution you ask? The answer is that you must be willing to shop around, to evaluate the offers from several universities before making the decision on where to enroll. The mistake the veteran in BUZZ Today made was in selecting the University of South Florida and then going through the credit transfer discussion. To avoid this trap you must have the credit transfer policy discussion BEFORE selecting a specific college or university.

In summary, it is not true that all universities give so little credit for prior training and experience. Some give a great deal of credit for both veteran and civilian applicants. It is very much in your interest to find out which universities are willing to accept your credits. The amount you spend and the time it will take you to complete depend on it. You have years and tens of thousands of dollars at risk it you do not take these facts into consideration before you select the school to attend.

There’s Debt Then There’s Debt

Student debt gets a lot of attention these days and rightfully so. As a country the total bill is over a trillion dollars and growing. Buzz TodaySource: The Wall Street Journal “Young people are racking up larger amounts of student debt than ever before”

The debt is real and a serious issue for both the borrowers and our nation. Here is why.

Under current law, our federal government only has so much money it can lend to college students. I know this seems counter intuitive in our world where the federal government just keeps on borrowing and borrowing as though the bank account is without end. It’s not. In the case of student loans it is easy to see the problem.

A college student can borrow only a specified total amount of loans. When those have all been used, there is no more to borrow. This defines a total amount that the government can lend in total. Over a trillion dollars of that lending capacity has been used. There is a trillion less that can be loaned in the future.

We have already looked at why this is a serious issue for the borrower in the earlier post titled “Debt”. But though we have talked about one aspect of the issue, let’s return to look at it from another perspective. You can reduce the amount of debt needed to earn your degree in the first place.

When you buy a house, you consciously take action to manage the amount of debt you take on with the purchase. In the case of the house purchase you have professional help. The bank is looking over your shoulder. They will not allow you to take on too much debt. They do this by looking at your credit score which tells them about your repayment history. This is to help them determine if you are a good risk which means they have data that shows them you are likely to repay your loan back.

In the case of the home loan, the bank also looks at your personal income. This is to give them (and you) data on how likely you are to have the money to repay the loan. This protects them… and it protects you. It does so by protecting you from your temptation to take out more debt than you can handle.

No such factors exist when it comes to student loans. You are on your own.

Beware, the temptation to take on more debt than is manageable is real. Millions have already fallen into the trap.

So, when it comes to debt, not all debt is equal. Beware. Look hard before you leap into student loans. They can bite like no other.