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.