Kansas board weighs options for transfer credit limits between community colleges, universities

Education

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The Kansas Board of Regents may consider increasing the number of credits a student can transfer from a community college to a state university. 

The board will consider increasing the transfer cap from 60 credit hours to 75 credit hours, roughly the equivalent of an extra semester of coursework. 

The maximum number of credits a student can transfer from a community college to a state university is roughly 60 credits depending on the student’s course of study and if there is an established agreement between the two institutions. 

Dr. L. Michael McCloud, chief academic officer and executive vice president of academic affairs for Johnson County Community College (JCCC), said under the current standard to obtain a baccalaureate degree set by the board, a student must earn at least 60 credit hours from the institution granting the baccalaureate degree.

 “A student who has completed a degree or a certificate at a community college could come in with as many as 70, 75, 80 [credit] hours, but have 20 of those hours not count in a 120 hour degree. [Then] have to find another 20 hours of coursework to take at the baccalaureate granting institution,” McCloud explained.

This policy may require students to retake courses at a university that they’ve already completed at a community college. It may also cost students more money depending on the difference in the cost of tuition and fees at their chosen university versus a community college. 

McCloud said the extra expenses associated with the tuition cap may be incentivizing students to continue their education in Missouri where there is no credit transfer cap.  

“Johnson County being so close to the state line, we also have relationships with schools in Missouri that will take a student’s full degree and certificate,” McCloud said.

“Where we cannot keep a Kansas student in Kansas and have that same relationship. In some cases, even with out-of-state costs, it is more affordable and sensible for a student to complete their degree faster by going out of the state of Kansas and doing their work over in Missouri.”

In 2019, JCCC was granted a special dispensation by the state to partner with the University of Kansas (KU) Edwards campus to create the pilot program allowing students to apply up to 75 credits earned at JCCC to their baccalaureate degree. 

In addition to evaluating the credit transfer limit, the board will also consider expanding the JCCC-KU pilot program to include other state universities. Under this proposal, each university would partner with a specific community college to offer a similar transfer policy as the JCCC-KU pilot program. 

McCloud said establishing new programs at each university may take more time as opposed to raising the transfer cap, which would allow students to bring more of their coursework credits with them. 

“Creating a pipeline to push students out of state, because we will not recognize or give credence or credit to the work that they’ve already put into their higher education is something we can control as a sector,” McCloud said.

“We believe that it’s time for us to step forward and to make that course correction and do what’s in the best interest of growing the State of Kansas and growing the intellectuals in this state.”

It’s unclear if the board will call for a formal vote to amend the transfer credit cap. The board will consider both proposals to increase the tuition cap and expand the pilot program later this fall.

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