Credits from for-profits may not transfer

A lawsuit filed this summer claims that two for-profit colleges told students credit transfer would be easier than it actually is.

Christopher Aadland

A lawsuit filed against two for-profit colleges has highlighted the pitfalls of transferring credits from those types of schools to their nonprofit counterparts.

This summer, the Minnesota Attorney General’s office sued Minnesota-based for-profit college Globe University and its sister college, the Minnesota School of Business, alleging that the schools used aggressive recruiting tactics and misled students about the transferability of credits.

Some education officials say public and nonprofit institutions like the University of Minnesota rarely accept transfer credits from for-profit colleges, often leading to discouraged students.

The credit transfer problem stems from different accrediting methods among nonprofit and for-profit schools, the officials say.

Some nonprofit institutions — like the University — are reluctant to accept credits from for-profit schools because many of them are nationally accredited colleges that have different standards than regionally accredited schools, said Jeff Pool, veteran services adviser for Anoka-Ramsey Community College.

At the University, the accreditation of an institution is one of the determining factors when deciding which credits the school will accept, said Rachelle Hernandez, associate vice provost for enrollment management and director of admissions, in an email statement.

The University will only consider transfer credits from regionally accredited institutions, she said in the email.

“Credit is not normally transferred from specialized or proprietary institutions,” Hernandez wrote in the email.

The difference between different accreditation types is something few students understand, Pool said.

For-profit recruiters might tell a student that their college is nationally accredited, he said, but sometimes nonprofit schools are looking for regional accreditation if students want to eventually transfer credits.

The lawsuit by the attorney general’s office alleges that Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business used that confusion to “deceptively blur the distinction between national and regional accreditation.”

But for-profit officials argue that complications with transferring credits aren’t specific to their sector.

Nonprofit and public schools like the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system have credit transfer issues, too, said Naomi McDonald, director of communications for Globe Education Network, which includes the for-profit colleges in the lawsuit.

She said Globe Education Network has a clear and well-defined credit transfer policy, adding that the institution to which a student transfers ultimately determines which credits count there.

“We believe students should always get credit for successfully completed coursework,” she said.

Although for-profit students often get credits turned down when they transfer to nonprofit universities, sometimes a few credits will transfer, Pool said.

“But it’s very, very rare, and usually it involves having to petition [a denial],” he said.

Ultimately, Pool said, most students who come to his institution seeking to transfer credit from a for-profit “stick it out,” even after they discover that few or none of their credits will transfer.

“They’re frustrated, they’re mad,” he said, “but most of them still end up enrolling here or somewhere else that has the program they’re looking for, because they want a degree.”