Transferring Colleges with Bad Grades

Home » Transferring Colleges with Bad Grades
Ready to start your journey?

Getting through college can be challenging, and there are many colleges that accept low GPA transfer students.

Colleges That Accept Low GPA Transfer Students

Whether you were distracted by extracurricular activities, struggled with difficult assignments, or had unexpected obligations preventing you from attending classes on time, ending up with poor grades doesn’t have to prevent you from transferring to a reputable school.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

There are a number of reasons why students decide to transfer schools, from changing career goals to relocation or simply wanting to get a fresh start at a new college. There are a number of ways that you can go about transferring colleges to finish your degree program or begin a new course of study, even with bad grades as there are many universities that accept low GPAs.

Colleges That Accept Low GPA

College students doing research in library

If you are looking into transferring schools as you pursue your education but have a low Grade Point Average (GPA), there are options with universities and colleges who accept low GPAs. While most colleges look at your GPA, it is only one factor among many that are considered for admissions.

Other factors that colleges consider when considering a low college GPA transfer include:

  • Trends and patterns in your grades
  • Personal statements and letters of intent
  • Extracurricular activities
  • References
  • Volunteer and/or work experience
  • SAT or ACT scores (depending on how long you’ve been in college)

Colleges and universities can vary greatly on which factors they place the most importance on, with many offering different levels of acceptance that may be helpful to you.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Some colleges with low GPA requirements offer conditional acceptance, which may allow you time to improve your GPA or maintain a certain GPA after admission. Other conditions may include taking prerequisite courses or retaking a specific course for a minimum grade. Once these conditions are met, you can be fully accepted.

Conditional acceptance can be a good way to prove to the school that you have what it takes to successfully stay enrolled in their program.You may also look into schools with open admissions. These colleges have a nonselective admissions process and allow all students with a high school diploma or GED to enroll.

In addition, some schools admit a select number of students on alternative admissions. While these students do not meet traditional high school requirements, they demonstrate potential for success. In some cases, a high school transcript is not required.

If you are looking into transfer friendly colleges, many colleges and state universities accept students with low GPAs. While many schools only accept and allow transfer credits for classes with a minimum grade, you may still be accepted even if all of your credits don’t transfer.

Lastly, there are state schools that have less competitive admissions requirements and will accept students with lower GPAs. As you look into transferring, consider talking to an admissions counselor. Many schools with generous transfer policies have counselors designated for assisting potential transfer students who can best advise you.

What is a Bad GPA for College?

College students checking their gpa online

A GPA is a standard system for translating letter grades into a point scale. A standard, unweighted GPA is calculated on a 4.0 scale, used by most colleges.

On a scale of 4.0,

  • 4.0 = A = 90 – 100%
  • 3.0 = B = 80 – 89%
  • 2.0 = C = 70 – 79%
  • 1.0 = D = 60 – 69%

Your GPA is calculated from the average grade in each class. The standard for a bad GPA largely depends on the school’s criteria. While a GPA below 3.0 is below the national average, many students are accepted to schools with GPAs below 3.0.

You may also find some schools consider weighted and unweighted GPAs. Unweighted GPAs do not take into consideration a course’s difficulty level. Weighted GPAs may be on a 4.5 or 5.0 scale, considering a course’s difficulty. An A received in an AP Course, for example, may be weighted and scored as a 5.0.

Do Colleges Care About GPA When Transferring?

Transfer student with her new friend checking Transfer Information
While colleges care about your GPA as a representation of your academic history, it’s not the only consideration they take into account when accepting transfer students.

Some low GPA requirement colleges will ask for a letter of intent outlining your professional goals and plans. This letter can be a great opportunity to highlight your potential at their school. Your resume, including work, volunteer, and community service experience, can also be a factor that colleges with low GPA requirements will consider.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Some schools may also allow you to take an online assessment that showcases your ability that isn’t reflected in your GPA.

Other Factors for College Admissions

College students checking admissions and requirements online

While admissions criteria vary from school to school, GPA is just one factor considered. Listed below are some common factors that colleges that accept low GPAs take into consideration.

  • Personal Statement: This is a chance for the admissions committee to hear directly from you in your own words – your past experiences, future goals, and why you deserve a place in their school.
  • SAT / ACT Scores: While not all schools require test scores, if you scored highly on either test, submitting your scores can help. If you’re only a year or two into your degree when transferring, some schools may still consider your test scores.
  • Extracurricular Activities: Highlighting two or three activities that showcase your leadership, community service, or work ethic can help set you apart.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Recommendations from a trusted professional that reinforce who you are as a person can boost your application significantly.
  • Resume: Highlighting your work experience can demonstrate your work ethic and your ability to manage time and responsibilities.

Schools also place varying degrees of emphasis on these factors. A liberal arts college may highly value your letters of recommendation, while a public school may focus more on your test scores.

Do Grades Transfer When You Transfer Colleges?

When transferring schools, you can receive credit for courses you’ve already completed. Most schools give credit for classes in which you earned a C or better.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

After transferring, the credits you earned in these courses will carry over, but not the individual letter grade. Your GPA at a new school will be a clean slate, only reflecting your grades earned from that point forward.

What Happens If My School of Choice Won’t Accept My Grades for Transfer?

College students attending a new college

Many students have an idea of which college they want to go to when considering a transfer but you may wonder what you do if your chosen school doesn’t accept credits from classes that you completed with less than a C?

The first thing that you need to ask yourself is if you are flexible about your school choice. If you feel that you must go to a particular school, go to that college’s website or make an appointment with an academic counselor to discuss your options.

It may be possible for you to still transfer to the new school and not receive credit for any classes that you completed with less than a C average. If you only have one class with a poor grade and are willing to retake that course, then this might be an option that will work for you.

Many accredited universities offer online classes that have more generous transfer policies than traditional brick-and-mortar schools. This can be a great chance for students to not only receive credit for the courses they have already completed but also have the opportunity to work on a more flexible schedule that may help improve their grades in the future.

What are Articulation Agreements?

Transfer student with her new classmates reviewing Articulation Agreements

If you are considering transferring schools, you have likely heard the term articulation agreement or transfer agreement. So what are these agreements and why are they important?

An articulation agreement is a formal, official written agreement between colleges or universities that aims to simplify the transfer process for students. Many schools, such as community colleges, have articulation agreements with specific universities that allow students to easily transfer their credits over for advanced standing, entry, or transfer into specific similar degree programs.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

There are several advantages to choosing to transfer to a school that already has an articulation agreement in place with your current college, including:

  • Coursework matching for a smooth transition
  • Chance to transfer an entire Associate’s Degree without question
  • Clear outlines for transfer and accepted course grades

Most community colleges with articulation agreements will allow students to transfer to a new school (even with less than stellar grades) if they have completed all the requirements of their AA or AS degree program first. If this is an option for you, you will then be able to start fresh at your new school because your transfer credits will not be factored into your new GPA.

Many schools publish their articulation agreements on their websites, and it is also a good idea to make an appointment with an academic advisor to go over your options and your school’s specific policies.

What Is a Degree Completion Program?

Transfer student attending class at the new university

If you have completed several semesters of school and only have one or two classes with poor grades, a degree completion program may be an option for you. These programs are designed for motivated adult learners to transfer into a school to complete their degree.

Many of these programs seek students who have a solid GPA, but they also look at factors beyond your grades, such as:

  • Overall academic preparation and motivation
  • A minimum number of transferable credits from an accredited school (typically 52-64 credits)
  • Completion of specific undergraduate courses
  • Life experience and work or professional activities

While degree completion programs may not be viable if you have minimal credits and multiple courses with less than a C average, it is worth checking into the transfer policy of schools offering these programs to see if you qualify.

What is Conditional Acceptance?

College students studying together

Conditional acceptance means that a school you applied to will accept you with the agreement that you meet specific criteria detailed by the school. The criteria for conditional acceptance will vary depending on the school and what they want to see you demonstrate.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

They may require you to maintain a certain GPA in your first year or take a course and get a minimum grade before admittance. Schools that offer conditional acceptance want to admit you but need you to demonstrate your commitment to your education. Once the conditions are met, you can then be fully admitted into the school’s program.

What is an Open Admission Policy?

Transfer student chatting with her new classmates on campus
Schools with an open admission policy accept all students with a high school diploma, or frequently a GED is also accepted.

Open admissions schools are considered non-competitive, meaning they don’t compare benchmarks like GPAs or test scores. Open admissions policies help students with lower GPAs or other limiting factors pursue their education regardless of their educational history.

Community colleges and four-year schools that offer associate’s degrees frequently have open admissions policies. Instead of using SAT/ACT or other standardized tests, open admissions schools frequently use placement tests to assess student capabilities.

Is a 1.8 GPA Good?

College students discussing in school campus

With the national GPA for high school students around 3.0, 1.8 is a good bit below average and will limit the schools that will accept you. A 1.8 GPA means you averaged C’s to C-’s in your classes.

While a 1.8 GPA will limit your acceptance to certain schools, keep in mind all other factors that schools consider, including test scores, recommendations, and work experience. Schools may also consider whether or not your GPA is weighted and the difficulty of the courses you’ve taken.

Some schools will accept students with a 1.8 GPA. You may also consider schools with open admissions or receive conditional acceptance from a school.

Is a 2.0 GPA Bad?

college students listening to a lecture

A 2.0 GPA means you earned C’s in most of your classes. You can still apply and be accepted into schools with a 2.0 GPA.

Considering that schools consider a variety of other factors, you will want to showcase your abilities as much as possible in those other areas. If you have work experience, volunteer or community service experience, outline those experiences in a detailed resume showcasing your work ethic and time management.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Letters of recommendation and a personal letter of intent can highlight who you are beyond just the numbers in your GPA. If you have strong ACT or SAT scores, submit those to demonstrate your academic abilities not demonstrated through your GPA.

I Passed All of My Classes With a C or Better

Some students transferring college

If you have an overall positive academic record but had a couple of courses end up with a final grade of a C, there are still many options to transfer to another university. Most colleges will accept transfer credits that were completed with a C average or above.

Certain competitive programs may have stricter policies for transferring credits or overall GPA. For example, if you are looking to transfer credits for a medical degree or law degree program, their additional requirements for entry may require a higher GPA than less specialized degrees.

When you are ready to begin the process of transferring schools with classes completed with a C average or better, the first step would be to sit down with your school’s academic advisor or counselor to go over your options. Transferring to a school that has an articulation agreement with your current school may be a wise choice to help you have a smooth transition into your new university.

I Passed All of My Classes With a D or Better

College students discussing while walking in school campus

If you ended up with a few D’s throughout the course of your college classes, there is no need to panic – but you may need to get creative to successfully transfer to your school of choice.

While most schools accept the transfer of classes with a C or better, there are accredited universities that have more flexible policies and are willing to accept a D grade. Providing your prospective school with evidence of appropriate coursework from an accredited institution or meeting face-to-face with their college representatives may be required to give you the extra edge in gaining acceptance into their program.

Another option that you might want to consider is staying at your current school long enough to complete all of the requirements to earn an associate’s level degree. Once you have earned this degree, you can try to apply to other colleges that offer

I Failed a Few Classes

Transfer student interview for admission

If you have failed a few of your classes but still want to transfer schools, it may feel like you are facing an uphill battle. However, don’t lose hope!

There are many reasons that students fail classes, and it doesn’t mean that you aren’t smart or capable of completing your education. If you are willing to spend a little more time at your current institution, consider retaking your failed course and give it everything you have to earn a better grade.

Editorial Listing ShortCode:

Most schools also offer tutoring programs to help students struggling in classes. Although a failed class will still appear on your transcripts, if you pass the course a second time with a higher grade the previous F will no longer be factored into your GPA – making transferring schools much easier!

Another viable option for those who have failed general education classes is to consider taking a CLEP test. While most schools accept CLEP, be sure to check into the specific policies of your desired school. If you pass the CLEP test, you can then receive credit for that course at your new university.

Best Colleges That Accept Low GPA Requirements

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited, offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format and accept low GPA requirements.

Albany State University

Albany State University

Albany State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

American InterContinental University

American Intercontinental University

American InterContinental University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College

Anna Maria College is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Arkansas Baptist College

Arkansas Baptist College

Arkansas Baptist College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University

Arkansas Tech University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

California State University – San Bernardino

California State University San Bernardino

California State University – San Bernardino is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Capella University

Capella University

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Central State University

Central State University

Central State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

East Coast Polytechnic Institute University

ECPI University

ECPI University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Edward Waters University

Edward Waters University

Edward Waters University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Florida Memorial University

Florida Memorial University

Florida Memorial University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University

FHSU is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Georgia Gwinnett College

Georgia Gwinnett College

Georgia Gwinnett College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Governors State University

Governors State University

Governors State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grace Christian University

Grace Christian University

Grace Christian University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Grambling State University

Grambling State University

Grambling State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University

Kentucky State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Kuyper College

Kuyper College

Kuyper College is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Langston University

Langston University

Langston University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Lewis-Clark State College

Lewis Clark State College

Lewis-Clark State College is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

Life Pacific University

Life Pacific University

Life Pacific University is accredited by WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Life University

Life University

Life University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Lincoln University

Lincoln Christian University

Lincoln University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Metropolitan College of New York

Metropolitan College of New York

Metropolitan College of New York is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Mississippi Valley State University

Mississippi Valley State University

Mississippi Valley State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Oakwood University

Oakwood University

Oakwood University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Paine College

Paine College

Paine College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Post University

Post University

Post University is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Rust College

Rust College

Rust College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Savannah State University

Savannah State University

Savannah State University is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

Southern University at New Orleans

Southern University at New Orleans

Southern University at New Orleans is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Talladega College

Talladega College

Talladega College is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Alaska – Southeast

University of Alaska Southeast

The University of Alaska – Southeast is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff

University of Arkansas Pine Bluff

The University of Arkansas – Pine Bluff is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Baltimore

University of Baltimore

The University of Baltimore is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

University of the Southwest

University of the Southwest

The University of the Southwest is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Webber International University

Webber International University

Webber International University is accredited by The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Getting Your Degree Online

Transfer college student, taking degree online

As you look into transferring schools, do not let a low GPA deter you. There are colleges with low GPA requirements that will consider other factors.

Your work experience, test scores, recommendations, extracurricular activities, and personal statement are all highly valuable pieces that provide schools with information about you. You may look into schools with open admissions or conditional acceptance to get started at a new school and start with a fresh GPA.

You may explore accredited universities online if you wish to pursue opportunities for a low college GPA transfer to another school.

Ready to start your journey?
Kathryn Byrne
WRITTEN BY Kathryn Byrne

Kathryn holds a Bachelor's degree in English Education from the University of Delaware, and an ESL certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language from Duke University. Kathryn has spent her entire career in education, with a focus on helping students of all ages ensure they have the necessary skills to maximize their educational opportunities.