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Articles / Applying to College / Costs of College Transfer

May 20, 2005

Costs of College Transfer

Question: My child is thinking of changing colleges. What additional expenses are involved? How much does it cost to spend extra time in school?

Sometimes there is no cost involved at all when a student switches colleges. Just because a student transfers, it doesn't necessarily mean that he or she will need extra time to graduate. Sometimes, too, if additional credits are required, the student can take them over the summer at a local community college so--even though there will be some extra costs involved--these will be low. Transferring may also demand some moving expenses, if your child is shipping furniture or other gear from one part of the country to another, but this isn't common or usually terribly costly. Transferring will often require extra application fees, too, but this is normally a minimal expense.


If, however, the transfer means added time in school, then this could, indeed, mean significantly more dough. In most cases, the additional costs will include full tuition charges for however long the student remains in college (e.g., one extra semester, one extra year) plus whatever living and miscellaneous expenses the student racks up during that time. (If he or she lives on campus, that would include room and board; most colleges also impose activity fees that all enrolled students must pay. It could also mean more health-insurance money coming out of your pocket for that semester or year, when you might have hoped there was an employer waiting in the wings to pick up the tab.).

Thus, depending on the cost of the college and whether or not your child lives there, an extra year can run you anywhere from a few thousand dollars up to 45 or 50K, once the dust has settled.

There are a few mitigating factors. For instance, if your child is not taking a full course load (e.g., he or she can't get into all classes required for the major in a given semester) then the college MAY charge by the number of credits taken--not full freight--and your child could have room in his or her schedule for part-time paid employment while attending school. (Many colleges, however, do charge the full price, even if the student isn't taking a full course load.)

Also, if your child is transferring in order to pursue a different major field, while it may mean spending more money for the extra time in school, the new field might be one where grads are in high demand in the job market (e.g., nursing) so the extra time and money may be very well spent and parlayed into a good job right after graduation.

Hope that helps. Good luck with whatever decisions lie ahead.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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