MnCAP offers guaranteed credits to Minnesota transfer students

Though the option offers a cheaper alternative, few take advantage.

by Miranda Taylor

Transferring credits to the University of Minnesota can be a sticky business.

To have no wasted credits, no wasted money and no wasted time almost sounds too good to be true. However, guaranteed transfer credit at the University of Minnesota has existed for the past nine years.

MnCAP, the Minnesota Cooperative Admissions Program, is a collaboration between the University and local community colleges that flies under the radar of most college-bound students.

MnCAP allows students who are looking to graduate from the University with a four-year degree to start their education at one of seven metro-area community colleges including Anoka-Ramsey Community College in Coon Rapids, Century College in White Bear Lake, Inver Hills Community
College in Inver Grove Heights and others.

The program offers the ground work for a variety of majors ranging from biology to Spanish and offers a cost-saving alternative to students who cannot afford the University or would simply like to save money.

“Guaranteed transfer, if you meet the requirements, is a pretty fantastic thing,” said Assistant Director of Admissions Heidi Meyer, who oversees transfer student recruitment and processing at the University.

General requirements for the guarantee stipulate that students must have a declared major upon transferring to the University, must have achieved grades of C or better at their previous college and must meet the University’s priority application deadline. Outside of these requirements,
students must also complete the prerequisites for their chosen major.

“Tuition is too high [at the University],” said Aura Cernatinskyte, a psychology sophomore at the University. She said if she could get a degree from the University while spending less money, she would “consider going somewhere else.”

At $164.46 per credit, the tuition at Century College, one of MnCAP’s participating schools, is less than half that of the University’s
per-credit tuition cost.

Century College director of admissions Christine Paulos said the average cost of attending one school year at Century — including tuition and fees — is less than $5,000.

In-state tuition and fees at the University will run a student approximately $11,500 per academic year.

Over the course of a standard three- to four-semester-long participation in MnCAP, a student attending a community college instead of the
University could save anywhere from $11,250 to $15,000.

Of the potential for losing students to a lower-cost institution, Wayne Sigler, director of admissions at the University, said all Minnesota colleges are trying to provide higher education, “so on one level, we may lose some students, but in the long run we believe that we’re providing an
important service.”

MnCAP provides opportunities outside of cost-savings, too.

“One of the reasons that MnCAP was put together was so that students who weren’t admitted to the University of Minnesota knew that they had options down the road,” Meyer said.

MnCAP provides another route to a University degree for students whose applications have been denied or waitlisted, but even students who have not been denied or waitlisted can sign up.

Upon completion of a two-year Associate in Arts degree or Minnesota Transfer Curriculum, students who have enrolled in MnCAP during their first semester of community college can expect guaranteed admission to the University, provided they meet the requirements outlined in the MnCAP

Sigler pointed out that such a guarantee “can relieve substantial anxiety that is sometimes there in the process of transferring from one college
to another.”

Still, MnCAP’s sign-up rates are relatively slim. Meyer said approximately 50 of the 2,100 to 2,200 transfer students accepted into undergraduate colleges this year will have signed up for MnCAP at some point before their transfer to the University.

Paulos said at Century College, 60 percent of students begin at the school with the intention of moving on to a four-year college.

For these students, Paulos said, MnCAP “[is] a great opportunity. It really is.”

“I’m surprised that more community colleges aren’t involved in this,” she said.

But in the future, more colleges might be, Sigler said.

“Our plan is to expand the program at other community colleges around the state of Minnesota,” he said.