Catalytic Giving

College Transfer Credits

We are making a catalytic impact on the issue of transfer credits by enabling students who transfer between City University of New York (CUNY) colleges to count their previously earned credits toward degree requirements at their new institution.

Over a third of college students transfer at least once yet, according to a 2018 Government Accountability Office report, approximately 43% of credits earned at a previously attended institution are lost when students transfer, making transfer students far less likely to graduate. This disproportionately affects low-income students because lost credits often result in their running out of financial aid before they have enough credits in a major study area to graduate—federal (PELL) and New York State (TAP) grants stop after a certain number of years and require that a student make a particular amount of progress towards a degree each year. So, if a student does not receive full credit for two years of college upon transfer, he/she has, in effect, “wasted” essential federal and state financial aid and is likely to run out of aid before reaching graduation.

The loss of transfer credits is a particularly significant issue at CUNY, which well over half of New York City public school students attend. We underwrote the development of an innovative digital tool, Transfer Explorer, that offers organized, searchable, user-friendly information on how every course in the CUNY catalog transfers across any combination of undergraduate institutions within the CUNY system. Transfer Explorer draws current data directly from CUNY’s student information system, is accessible to the public, and is free to use. This is the first time such information has been made available. Users of the Heckscher-sponsored tool can search, browse, and filter results using institutions, words, subjects, or catalog numbers. Students can now look up courses they have taken or are considering and see how those courses would be treated by CUNY institutions to which they might transfer.