Among the many issues that the Democratic presidential contenders debated last night in Miami was the increasing burden of student college debt in the U.S, which currently stands at about $1.6 trillion. The average debt for college graduates is about $29,000, but the average debt for African American graduates is more than $34,000. Compare this to American auto debt, $1.1 trillion, and lower total U.S. consumer credit card debt which is $1.04 trillion. Years ago, it would have been unthinkable that U.S. credit card debt would be surpassed by college indebtedness. Several of the candidates have suggested various methods for dealing with the problem, ranging from complete loan forgiveness to free college tuition at public colleges, and some candidates propose a combination. One thing all candidates agree on is that paying for these ambitious proposals will require higher taxes. Elizabeth Warren proposes a wealth tax on individuals, and Bernie Sanders proposes a tax on Wall Street transactions. The issue is bound to pick up steam not only in the upcoming presidential primaries, but also in the general election where Donald Trump was forced to pay a $25 million fine for bilking students out of their money in his Trump University scam.
The Washington Post posted a video explanation of the some of the Democratic candidates’ approaches to free college and debt forgiveness. For a slightly more detailed explanation check out this NPR article, Democratic Presidential Contenders Propose Free College and Student Loan Forgiveness.
College debt is an enormous problem confronting voters across the entire socio-economic spectrum regardless of age or race. The current college loan system preys on families who fall into the financial aid income/asset donut hole. They make too much and have too many assets to qualify for need based financial aid, but they lack the resources to pay for a traditional four year college education. What do these folks do? They borrow tens of thousands, often hundreds of thousands, to make college happen for their children. The issue has suddenly moved off the financial pages and landed smack in the middle of the presidential election zeitgeist.
Ten Quick Tips for College Transfer Planning
To be eligible for transfer you will be expected to complete some or all general education requirements and major prerequisites prior to transfer.
1. Identify your target four year colleges.
2. What are the minimum number of units (credits) needed to be eligible for transfer. At most Cal State campuses and all UC campuses the number is 60 semester units (90 quarter units). Private colleges and other state public university systems may accept fewer units for transfer eligibility.
3. Research the general education requirements (also called breadth requirements) at target schools and plot your general education course sequence accordingly.
- If you are enrolled in a California Community College you can find Cal State University transfer requirements at:
- UC transfer requirements at:
4. If you are targeting private colleges or other public universities check your community college course catalogue for course articulation agreements. For example, here is the articulation link at Santa Monica College:
The articulation agreement will tell you which courses at your community college satisfy general education requirements at the target college.
5. Next find out what major prerequisites are required, or recommended, for eligibility at your target colleges. For transfers from California Community Colleges to the University of California or the Cal State University systems, the best place to start is at: www.assist.org.
6. If your target colleges are outside the UC or Cal State System then you will have to research major requirements at each college website. Some of the prerequisites could overlap with UC or Cal State major prerequisites.
7. Check your community college catalogue to see how many of your high school AP or IB exam scores satisfy general ed or major prerequisites.
8. Plan your course sequence. For the University of California you can use the online Transfer Admission Planner at:
9. Now that you know your target transfer colleges check application deadlines. This is critical. Some colleges, including the UC and Cal State systems require transfer application almost a year in advance of enrollment. Application deadlines for other colleges and universities are often in the spring prior to fall enrollment.
10. Remember to apply for financial aid. Research college financial aid deadlines
and don’t miss them.
The College Transfer Guru can help you navigate
the system and plan your transfer path.