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SUNY's new seamless transfer system aims to improve student graduation time,

Ellen Abbott
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher (right) chatting with SUNY Upstate Interim President Greg Eastwood at the New York State Fair

SUNY’s latest strategy to try and help students graduate on time with less debt is a guarantee that credits will be transferred from one school to another

SUNY students begin the academic season this year with a promise from the state: they can transfer any general education requirements as well as some discipline-specific courses from one school to another in what Chancellor Nancy Zimpher calls the “guaranteed seamless transfer of credits.”

“You take your two-year degree at a community college. You go to a four-year school, you’re a junior. No questions asked,” said Zimpher. “You’ve taken all the gen-ed courses. If you want to take up to five courses in your major at a community college, they transfer too, which is sort of unheard of.”

Zimpher says this promise goes above and beyond what any other systems of higher education across the country provide. More than 1,000 faculty members across SUNY worked on getting the transfer kinks out of the system.  

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher poses with members of the New York State Assembly at the state fair.

Zimpher says Open SUNY, which offers online advising and courses, will work in conjunction with this concept.

“So if you can’t get Chemistry 501 at Cortland, you can get it online and maybe it’s offered by Geneseo or Oswego or by Stonybrook, but it counts. And that is the critical part of it. So if you can get it anytime, anywhere, and you want to be a residential student and graduate on time or early, save yourself some money, that’s how it works.”

In addition to the goal of helping students graduate on time, Zimpher hopes it will help reduce student debt at graduation as well.

“We also know that the way to decrease student debt is to finish on time or early. We have all these high school students taking college courses -- some up to 30 hours, some up to 60 hours -- to be economical, to be efficient. Not to give away your college years, but you know, get the degree, get on with it.”  

SUNY’s completion agenda hopes to increase the number of degrees awarded from 93,000 to 150,000 per year by 2020.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.