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There has been a lot written about finding the college that fits your budget, looking for scholarships, and budgeting while in college. But what about reducing the overall cost of college, before you get there, or while you’re pursuing your degree?
That’s the goal of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s (ODHE) Ohio Articulation and Transfer Network (OATN). OATN is responsible for creating and maintaining college credit transfer pathways for students to reach their highest level of degree attainment. OATN reduces institutional barriers, which speeds up time to degree completion, and allows students to transfer college credit from more affordable public institutions to more expensive ones.
OATN can help students across the educational spectrum. For high school students, Advanced Placement (AP) and the Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2 will help students save money before they even arrive on a college campus. Students that are already enrolled in college will find the Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways (OGTP), Ohio Transfer Module (OTM), and Transfer Assurance Guides (TAG) an efficient way of transferring their academic credits from a less expensive institution to a pricier four-year universities. There are even pathways for students that don’t take the straight to college path, such as College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams, Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAG), and One Year Option (OYO).
In the 2019-2020 school year, Ohio students and taxpayers saved over $67 million through Ohio’s transfer initiatives. Whether you’re like the 20,327 students who transferred some college credits through programs like (CT)2 and TAG or if you’re like the 30,154 students who started at a less expensive higher education institution and then transferred all those credits to a more costly school, Ohio’s transfer initiatives can help you reduce the total cost for your college degree.
Advanced Placement (AP) Classes
If your student wants to study at a collegiate level while at high school, look into any AP classes your school district offers. The available courses will vary by district and at each high school.
These advanced classes give your student an opportunity to potentially earn college credits while still meeting high school graduation requirements. At the end of the course, your child will need to take the AP exam in order to receive college credits.
A score of 3 or above will earn corresponding college credit at any of Ohio’s public institutions of higher education. Private colleges and universities also have AP credit policies but they are not required to follow state transfer guidelines.
You or your child will have to pay to take the AP exam. However, if your student scores well enough to attain college credits, that expense should cost significantly less than paying for that same number of credit hours.
Visit ODHE for further explanation of the AP process as well as the state’s transfer policy for these earned college credits. College Board also offers guidance on the AP program.
Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2
The Career-Technical Credit Transfer initiative, also known as (CT)2 or CTAGs, is an initiative to align career-technical education offered at secondary career-technical institutions, high schools, and Ohio Technical Centers (OTC) for adults to specific college courses at Ohio public community colleges and universities. The goal was to standardize the award of credit at each institution and to facilitate the ability to transfer to any state institution that offers that specific program.
The (CT)2 initiative covers 42 technical areas from cybersecurity and automotive technology to fire fighting and nursing. To be eligible for credit, students must complete their program, pass the end of course assessment(s) and/or earn an industry-recognized credential, and then enroll at the participating college or university of their choice.
Career-technical education for high school students isn’t always housed on the campus of career centers or vocational schools; increasingly you can find college credit eligible courses and programs at a student’s normal high school. If high school students are interested in this opportunity, they should talk with their guidance counselors to find the opportunities that best match their career aspirations. Students can earn up to 12 semester hours of credit by participating in the (CT)2 initiative.
Adult students should meet with representatives of the OTC to find the opportunities that best match their intended goals. There are 54 career centers across the state. Adult students may earn up to 30 semester hours of credit, depending on program. Adults enrolled in an applicable career-technical program at an OTC are able to use their 529 funds to pay for tuition as well as qualifying school supplies.
Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways (OGTP)
If you or your child plan to start at the community college level and then go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, the Ohio Guaranteed Transfer Pathways (OGTPs) are a great way to get you there.
OGTPs provide a clearer path to degree completion by aligning the curriculum of general education and pre-major courses of public community colleges and public universities. Through OGTP, a student chooses one of 25 degree pathways, within seven cluster areas, and completes the coursework required to earn their associate degree. That can be an associate degree in art, science, or applied science. Once a student enrolls in an equivalent field/major at a public four-year university, all the completed coursework is guaranteed to transfer to four-year institution and count towards a bachelor’s degree. To start, you will need meet with your advisor to plan your academic progress and transfer options. Further information can be found at https://www.ohiohighered.org/OGTP
Ohio Transfer Module (OTM)
The Ohio Transfer Module (OTM) is the statewide transfer initiative for general education courses. It is comprised of 36-40 semester hours of credit and covers five main areas:
- English composition/oral communication,
- Arts and humanities,
- Social and behavioral sciences, and
- Natural sciences.
When a student takes one, or more, approved OTM courses at a public institution of higher education and transfers to another public institution of higher education, those courses are guaranteed to transfer and apply to their general education requirements.
Approved courses transfer in one of two ways, area credit and course-to-course credit.
Course-to-course transfer means that when you transfer an approved OTM course from your previous institution you will receive a specific course on your transcript at the next institution that fulfills a general education requirement if the two courses are considered equivalent.
Course-to-course credit is when you take a course, the course transfers from your previous institution to your new institution as having met the general education requirement in a specific area.
Both course-to-course and area-credit transfer will fulfill graduation requirements. Courses taken outside of the OTM will still be evaluated by the receiving institution’s transfer office upon enrollment to that institution. More information can be found at https://www.ohiohighered.org/transfer/transfermodule.
Transfer Assurance Guides (TAG)
Transfer Assurance Guides (TAG) is the statewide system of credit transfer for pre-major/beginning major courses. There are currently 59 TAG areas/majors that comprise this initiative. The TAG initiative includes most general areas of studies like business, English, and psychology. Students take approved TAG courses at one of Ohio’s two-year or four-year public higher education institutions. They are then able to transfer those courses to another public school that also offers the major. Courses are transferred on a course-to-course basis and an equivalent course will appear on a student’s transcript at their new institution. Students that complete an approved TAG course at one institution are guaranteed to receive credit for their completed coursework at another institution that offers the major, even if that institution’s equivalent course is not yet approved. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor or a school’s transfer office before transferring schools. Further information can be found at https://www.ohiohighered.org/transfer/tag
College-Level Examination Program (CLEP)
The College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) exams were created to help individuals with prior knowledge of a college-course subject earn college credits toward a degree efficiently and inexpensively. The 34 CLEP exams cover introduction-level college course material. With a passing score on a CLEP exam, students can earn college credits at a public Ohio higher education institution. Every public college and university in Ohio has cross-reference documents that show which CLEP tests are aligned to which course at a respective institution, as well as the score needed to be awarded credit. Additional information about the initiative can be found here. It is recommended that you talk with an advisor at your institution to see how the CLEP process works at that institution. Some institutions may require you to take applicable CLEP tests before you enroll there.
CLEP is administered by College Board, which also oversees the Advanced Placement program.
Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAG)
Military Transfer Assurance Guides (MTAGs) are a statewide set of standards that guarantees that certain types of military training, experience, and/or coursework will align to existing college and university courses. MTAGs are currently aligned to three statewide course equivalency initiatives: Career-Technical Credit Transfer (CT)2, which covers career and technical education (e.g. nursing); Ohio Transfer Module (OTM), which covers general education requirements; and Transfer Assurance Guides (TAGs), which covers beginning and pre-major courses. The state has provides an interactive list of applicable military training and its alignment to specific college course at institutions.
MTAGs are only a small portion of courses that might align to college credits. This is why each higher education institution is required to evaluate all military training, experience, and coursework for potential alignment with their own courses and programs. Students should meet with the Military Credit Contact at their institution to have their experiences evaluated for credit.
To earn potential college credit for training, experience, or coursework received while in the U.S. Armed Forces, military service members will need to submit their Joint Service Transcript (Army, Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard) or Community College of their Air Force transcript to the school’s admission office. If there is any coursework that carries a statewide guarantee, that credit and course equivalency information will be automatically granted.
For other training, experience, and coursework, military service members will need to self-advocate by meeting with an academic advisor, faculty advisor, or transfer credit specialist to have their military coursework evaluated. Some alternative methods to this evaluation process could be taking an institution’s credit-by-exam options to test out of certain courses, or portfolio assessment by assembling a proof of training to apply it to a specific course or degree requirement. Some institutions will also award general-education or degree-specific credit based on pre-deployment training, or multi-cultural training received for overseas deployment while in the U.S. Armed Forces. If applicable, please make sure to ask the higher education institution if they award credit for this training and what documentation is required.
One Year Option (OYO)
The One Year Option is a state transfer program that allows adult education students who complete a 900-clock-hour program at an Ohio Technical Center and earn the recognized industry credential to then transfer those credentials to an Ohio community college and earn college credit towards an associate degree. Students who choose this option can earn up to 30 semester hours of credit for their credential, which is equivalent to half of an Associate of Technical Studies degree. Students can also complete a 600-899 clock hour program and receive proportional credit toward an associate degree when they complete the same process as the 900 hour program. To start, you should first talk with an advisor at an Ohio Technical Center. For more information and to find out which post-secondary credentials will applyhttps://www.ohiohighered.org/one-year-option.
There are additional resources available to guide you through the transfer process. They are:
Military Credit Contact
The military credit contact is the person on campus who is responsible for making sure that military transcripts are received and evaluated so that all applicable military training and education can be transferred for college credits. The military credit contact will also handle requests to resolve disputes about the credit awarded for previous military experience. This person is usually located within the registrar’s, records, or transfer offices.
Higher education institutions see the value in helping students find the right path to earning a degree. This is why schools offer transfer offices staffed by dedicated personnel to help transfer students succeed. If a student is thinking of transferring to another institution in-state or out-of-state, contacting that school’s transfer office should be a top priority. The transfer office will direct you to the most up-to-date information on how all of your courses and test scores will be applied to your future transcript.
Course Reporting System
When you are looking to transfer, coming up with a plan is key. This is why ODHE created an interactive website, called the Approved Course Reporting System, where you can look up what credit will be granted at each of Ohio’s public colleges and universities. This website works for AP, CTAG, OTM, and TAG courses. More information can be found at: https://transfercredit.ohio.gov.
Transferology is a nationwide network that helps students explore their college transfer options. This website allows you to see how your college courses, test scores, and military transcripts will be interpreted at colleges and universities nationwide. All you need to do is setup a free account and start looking. More information can be found at https://www.transferology.com/index.htm.
Ohio’s transfer pathways are a great way to reduce college costs before, and during, your child’s postsecondary education. As with Ohio’s 529 Plan, CollegeAdvantage, any dollar saved is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed, making these transfer programs a wise investment of your student’s time and effort.
If you haven’t started saving for future higher education expenses, open a tax-advantaged Ohio’s 529 Plan today! Every dollar saved today is a dollar that doesn’t have to be borrowed later which makes Ohio’s 529 college savings plan an excellent alternative to student loan debt. If you’d like to learn more about the tax-advantaged way to save for college, explore Ohio’s 529 Plan — The Plan That Can.
Posted on March 11, 2021