Nationally Accredited Universities and Transferring Credits: Insights for Students

nationally accredited colleges

Introduction: Understanding College Accreditation and Credit Transfer

College education costs rose by 17% in just ten years—and they will continue to increase. The average cost of an undergraduate degree today is $14,688 per year, excluding the cost of room, board, and other fees. 

Fortunately, some colleges still offer low tuition rates and financial aid packages. But are they all worth it? 

Another factor you should consider is accreditation. Higher education institutions without proper accreditation will steer you into a dark path. Your degree will have no value with many employers and all reputable colleges and universities.

Featured Programs

What is College Accreditation?: Exploring the Importance of Accredited Institutions

College is an investment. You must do it right the first time to avoid going knee-deep in student loan debt. How can you get your money’s worth?

Ensuring high ROI can be quite tricky. You must evaluate your goals, needs, interests, and more. But in addition to those elements, you need to ensure the school’s credibility and reputation. 

There’s a system that ensures that higher education institutions meet academic standards. This system, known as “accreditation,” evaluates colleges and universities’ overall performance. 

Regionally/nationally accredited colleges are very important. Unfortunately, with the rise of online education, unaccredited institutions have proliferated. As a result, college students should be more cautious when choosing an institution. Knowledge of accreditation and its significance is crucial to ensure ROI.

So, what aspects of an institution accreditation agencies evaluate? 

  1. Quality Assurance
  2. Transferability of Credits
  3. Employer Recognition
  4. Access to Financial Aid
  5. Professional Licensure and Certification

In short, a regional/national accredited college provides students with recognized credentials that are respected in various industries.

Types of College Accreditation: Understanding National Accreditation

There are several types of accreditation. Each type plays a distinct role in evaluating and affirming the quality of higher education institutions. One of these types is national accreditation, which differs from regional accreditation in several key ways.

Nationally accredited intuitions are granted to vocational, technical, or career-focused institutions. Some national accrediting agencies focus on evaluating religious schools and distance learning programs. Overall, national accrediting agencies focus on specific programs or career-oriented fields.

Conversely, regional accreditations focus on the overall institutional academic and integrity.

Several types of national accreditation have emerged. But do they all hold the same values and standards? No, they do not.

Recently, a lot of diploma mills have created their own “accreditation,” which serves no value. To ensure that the accrediting agency follows standards, it should be Department of Education- and Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA)-recognized.

Here are a few examples:

  • Association for Biblical Higher Education Commission on Accreditation
  • Association of Institutions of Jewish Studies
  • Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools
  • Distance Education Accreditation Commission (DEAC)
  • Accreditation Council for Business Schools & Programs (ACBSP)
  • Aviation Accreditation Board International (AABI)
  • Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges (ACCJC)

You can visit CHEA for a complete list of recognized accrediting agencies.

The Credit Transfer Process: A Student’s Guide

The credit transfer process may look different for various types of students. Who are transfer students? 

1. Community College Transfer

A lot of bachelor’s students are from community colleges. You get general education credits out of the way of your bachelor’s degree. This often results in more affordable learning. The easiest way to transfer credits for these students is by utilizing articulation agreements. 

2. Four-year Transfers

It’s not uncommon for students to transfer from one university to another. Among the reasons are affordability, major change, and the pursuit of advanced degrees. Other students transfer to experience better campus life and community. 

3. International Transfer

These students deal with the most stress in transferring to foreign colleges. Students with F-1 or M-1 visas can only transfer to college certified by the Student and Exchange Visitors Program. Moreover, M-1 students must complete the transfer within six months.

4. Military Transfer 

Military students are the most frequent ones who transfer from school to school. Yet, these transfer students have strong support from the GI Bill®.

5. Nontraditional Transfer  

This term refers to students returning to school after years out of the system. These transfer students must undergo evaluation for life experience credits. 

Regardless of your transfer student status, you may have to undergo a similar process.

  1. Research Potential Schools. Not all schools will accept your credits. Before deciding, talk with an academic advisor and ask about the transfer process for your situation. 
  2. Check for Articulation Agreements. This can help streamline and maximize the credit transfer process.
  3. Prepare Your Application. The application process differs from student to student. Yet, the most common requirements include letters of recommendation and personal statements. Schools may require official or unofficial transcripts. Some schools won’t require the SAT or ACT but will focus on your previous academic performance. 

What Are Transferable Credits?: Key Considerations for Credit Transfer

Transfer credits are completed courses at one institution that students can apply to another. This helps students transfer schools without redoing previous courses.

However, transferring to a regionally accredited institution can be difficult. Many of these institutions will not accept credits from nationally accredited colleges, but some will. 

So, what colleges accept nationally accredited credits? A few of them include:

  1. Western Governors University (WGU)
  2. Capella University
  3. Grand Canyon University
  4. Liberty University
  5. American Public University System
  6. Southern New Hampshire University
  7. University of Phoenix
  8. DeVry University
  9. Strayer University
  10. Walden University

Yet, colleges that accept nationally accredited credits still require a rigorous process. The ACICS or Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges & Schools provides resources to enhance credit transfer from nationally accredited to regionally accredited institutions. You’ll see highlights of the various factors influencing the process. 

Among those factors include:

  • Specific school policies
  • State policies
  • Residency prerequisites
  • Course alignment between transferring and receiving college
  • Availability of courses at different academic levels (e.g., associate, bachelor’s, master’s)
  • Individual academic performance

Choosing an Accredited College: Ensuring Quality Education and Transferability

With the increase of diploma mills, prioritizing accreditation cannot be overstated. Once you fall prey to their fraudulent activities, you’ll have: 

  • No access to federal and private financial aid
  • Lower return on investment
  • No strong support system
  • Limited career preparation
  • Limited to no opportunities for transfer credits 

On the other hand, accredited institutions ensure that your education meets recognized standards. Moreover, these institutions enhance your opportunities to make higher education more accessible and affordable. 

But how can you verify the institution’s accreditation? 

  1. Look for accreditation information on the homepage or in the “About” or “Accreditation” sections.
  2. Visit the Department of Education or CHEA (Council for Higher Education Accreditation).
  3. Contact the college’s admissions office or registrar’s office directly.

Tips for Successful Credit Transfer: Maximizing Your Transfer Potential

You can maximize transfer credits by:

  • Utilizing articulation agreements of your current/previous institution.
  • Pursuing traditional schools that accept nationally accredited credits. 

You should also consider regional accreditation online colleges that accept credits from nationally accredited universities and colleges. Online accredited colleges offer the same educational quality as their traditional counterparts. 

Once you’ve determined which schools accept nationally accredited credits, it’s time for the next steps. 

1. Compare the curriculum and learning outcomes of your current and prospective programs.

Compare current and prospective programs using tools like course descriptions, syllabi, degree audits, degree planners, and transfer credit calculators. Consider learning outcomes and competencies for each program.

2. Seek academic advising and support from both institutions.

Consult academic advisors and counselors for course selection, transfer application, and enrollment. They can help evaluate transcripts, recommend courses, and address challenges during the process.

3. Petition

You can petition to have a transfer course equated to a specific course. A faculty member will review your petition and decide, at their discretion, whether to approve or deny it. This process may take 2-3 weeks.

Navigating Tuition Costs: Smart Tips for Paying for College

It’s important to evaluate your financial capability. There’s always an accredited college that will fall within or only slightly away from your budget. Do not pursue a college that’s way out of your reach; you’ll fall into debt requiring a lifetime of repayment. 

Other tips to have a more manageable college journey include: 

  • Completing the FAFSA early
  • Pursuing work-study programs
  • Seeking out private scholarships and grants
  • Considering community college for general education courses
  • Exploring alternative options like online courses or part-time study while working full-time
  • Utilizing employer tuition reimbursement programs, if available
  • Attending a college with a co-op program
  • Take dual-credit courses

Scholarships and Financial Aid: Opportunities for Accredited College Students

One of the best perks of attending accredited colleges is its financial aid opportunities. However, packages will differ; some will offer better packages than others. Nevertheless, it assures you that you’ll be able to receive financial assistance. 

There are various types of financial aid opportunities for students in accredited colleges. They include: 

  • Merit scholarships
  • Need-based scholarships
  • Academic-specific scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work Study
  • Employer Assistance
  • Federal Loans
  • Private Loans
  • Military Benefits
  • Community Organization Scholarships

Conclusion: Empowering Your Educational Journey with Accredited Colleges and Credit Transfer

Credit transfer in higher education is transforming the landscape, bridging the gap between earned credits and new opportunities. However, to fully leverage the benefits of credit transfer, you must be enrolled in an accredited college.

Not all regional universities accept transfer credits from national colleges. Yet, many options are still available for students seeking to transfer credits between institutions.