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Two students at CUNY review the Transfer Explorer tool together.

How CUNY and Ithaka S+R are Easing the College Transfer Process 

Organization Info

Ithaka S+R provides research and strategic guidance to help the academic and cultural communities navigate economic, demographic, and technological change.



Organization Lead

Catharine Bond Hill, Managing Director

Foundation Lead

Garridon Hankins

With easy access to information on transfer credit equivalencies and program requirements through Transfer Explorer, college students are better equipped to plan and make informed decisions about transferring institutions – saving them time and money along the path to a degree and increasing their likelihood of graduating. 

Lost Credits: An Unexpected Barrier to Graduation 

One-third of college students begin their postsecondary education in community colleges, with ​over 80% of these students aspiring to earn a bachelor’s degree. Achieving that goal will require them to transfer institutions – but it’s often unclear how their credits will transfer until after they have applied and been accepted, leaving little opportunity for students to align courses and compare options.  

A crushing 43% of students’ credits are estimated to be lost during the transfer process. Those lost credits equal wasted time and money, and unsurprisingly, students who lose many of their transfer credits are far less likely to graduate. With increased transparency and access to information about credit transfer, students can be prepared for success in reaching their higher education goals. 

Two students at CUNY review the Transfer Explorer tool together.
Student help coach Yesenia works with a student advisee, walking through the T-Rex tool to help make their transfer journey smooth and stress-free.

Transforming the College Transfer Experience 

In May 2020, the Articulation of Credit Transfer (ACT) project, a collaboration between the City University of New York (CUNY) and Ithaka S+R, launched CUNY Transfer Explorer (CUNY T-Rex), a public tool that makes credit transfer to or between any CUNY colleges easy to understand, transparent, and accessible in real-time.  

With CUNY T-Rex, students have clarity in advance about how their credits will transfer and apply at different CUNY institutions. With that information, they can make better decisions about which school will best serve their goals – and avoid the need to retake classes. 

The results have already been huge for CUNY students. For example, the number of Hostos Community College transfer students who were able to count all their transferred credits toward their Lehman College degree increased from 58% in fall 2019 to 72% in fall 2021. That’s a 24% improvement. CUNY T-Rex has not only improved student transfer and credit transfer rates, but it has also helped students save time and money by avoiding the need to repeat completed courses. 

Since its launch, CUNY T-Rex has been accessed by over 107,000 unique users, significantly improving their transfer experience and outcomes.  

Dive Deeper

CUNY Transfer Explorer (T-Rex)

With T-Rex, students have the most up-to-date way to know exactly how CUNY colleges transfer and apply credit for both CUNY and non-CUNY courses, as well as for other learning experiences, like exams and certifications.

A Game-changing Solution with National Promise 

​​​​​Ithaka S+R believes the tool can be adapted effectively to other university systems to benefit even more students.  

To help make that vision a reality, Ithaka S+R is working to develop and launch a universal version of Transfer Explorer that will include information from institutions in several state systems and agencies outside of New York. By incorporating course equivalency and program requirement data from many institutions across states, Universal Transfer Explorer can assist thousands of students who plan to transfer each year. If successful, this comprehensive resource could continue to grow and expand to support students and institutions across the country.

The Road to Educational Success 

Students begin their higher education journeys with big ambitions. The roadblocks they encounter in the transfer process are unnecessary, costly, and time-consuming – students deserve a clearer pathway toward earning a college degree. 

Ithaka S+R is providing a much-needed resource to college transfer students. By improving access to information about transfer credits, Transfer Explorer arms students with the information they need to ensure their hard-earned credits count toward a college degree. 

Photo of Yesenia, a CUNY student, sitting and smiling direct to camera in front of a standing banner featuring the Transfer Explorer tool.

Meet Yesenia

As a dedicated student help coach at Lehman College, Yesenia brings a unique perspective to this role, having transferred to Lehman herself from Hostos Community College. She experienced the challenges of navigating the transfer process firsthand, before the introduction of the T-Rex system. This inspired her to assist fellow students, helping to make their transitions smoother and more informed.

“It really takes away the mystery of a new school,” she says about the tool. “It shows them directly what’s going where. What credits are transferring, what credits are not transferring, and also how they’re going to get allocated into their transcripts.”