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An Affordable Path to a Bachelor’s Degree: California Community College Transfers

California Community Colleges offer an affordable path to a Bachelor’s degree. They can:

  • Provide two years of college, often with free tuition;

  • Allow students to avoid room and board costs by living at home;

  • Allow students to wait until their Junior year to attend a four-year college, when need-based aid amounts increase; and

  • Provide access to prestigious four-year universities.

Financial Aid Increases By Year

Need-based financial aid amounts tend to increase by year. This is the case with both Federal Pell Grants and with Federal Subsidized Student Loans. “B” Cal Grants, a California need-based financial aid program, increase dramatically between Freshman and Sophomore years in college. In 2023, the annual maximum “B” Cal Grant at a University of California school is $1,648 in Freshman year, but the annual maximum increases to $14,218 in Sophomore year. You can see the maximum grant sizes here: For more information on State-based financial aid in California, please see:

Community College Transfer Basics

A community college degree can save you money if your credits from community college transfer to a four-year college, which typically costs more than community colleges. Unfortunately, credits do not always transfer. The advice in this section applies to all prospective transfer students, not just students in California.

Complete English and math requirements ASAP.

Why? Some students struggle in one or both classes, and they need to take the class more than once. These classes can also be prerequisites for more advanced classes. That is, if you haven’t taken Introductory Math or Introductory English, you can’t take Physics or an advanced Psychology class.

No “D” or “F” grades!

These grades (and sometimes a “C” grade) do not transfer. If you receive a “D” or “F,” retake the class.

Keep your syllabus.

Why? A syllabus shows what books you read and what topics the class covered. A four-year college can use the syllabus to match your community college class to a class offered at the four-year college. This enables the four-year college to accept credits for the class.

Check Transferology.

Transferology is a website that shows what community college classes transfer to participating four-year colleges. See:

University of California (UC) Transfers

Basic UC Transfer Requirements.

There are more detailed course requirements to transfer into a UC.

These are called the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC). You can view the requirements here:

Transfer Admission Guarantee

UC TAG Basics.

The UC Transfer Admission Guarantee (TAG) guarantees students spots at UC campuses if the students meet the specific requirements. All of the UCs except UC Berkeley, UCLA, & UC San Diego participate in TAG. TAG applications are due in September prior to the school year when they want to start (e.g., September 2024 to start in the 2025-26 school year). Students who miss that deadline can still apply to transfer, but they will not be applying as a TAG participant.

UC TAG General Admission Requirements.

University-Specific TAG Requirements.

Individual UCs have their own TAG requirements, such as an average minimum GPA. For TAG information by UC campus, please see: Please note that some majors at some campuses are excluded from TAG.

Educ8Fit Consulting

For more information about financial aid in general, please visit my website at Paying for College | Educ8Fit Consulting. Please contact Educ8Fit Consulting at either or College Admission Counseling | Educ8fit Consulting | United States, contact for a free 30-minute consultation.

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Phone: (703) 850-9319

Personal LinkedIn: Jim Houser | LinkedIn


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