Ready to go back to college? Excellent decision! If you’ve already earned previous college credit, you’ll want to make sure your hard work counts toward your new degree. To find out how much of your prior credit you can transfer, you’ll need to obtain your college transcript. But how? And what if it’s been years since your last college attendance? No worries! We’ll answer your questions and walk you through all the steps to obtain your college transcript.
What is a college transcript?
A college transcript is a list your courses, grades, major/minor (if you had one), credit hours and GPA you’ve earned at a college.
How do I get my transcript?
The school you last attended is always the best place to start when looking for your transcript. Your transcript can be requested in person, by mail or online.
We suggest ordering it online by following these steps:
Go your previous college's website.
Either enter "order transcript" in the search box on the main page or look for a link to the Enrollment, Admissions or Registrar page.
From there, you should be able to find instructions on the various ways to order your transcripts. (You may be required to go to the college’s online student portal. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to enter your former student ID and password. If you forgot it, click on the applicable "forgot my student ID" or "forgot my password" buttons and follow any steps listed.)
Follow the instructions to order your transcripts, fill out any information required and pay any fees that might be requested. Typically, there are no fees for unofficial transcripts. If you’re not sure if you need an official or unofficial transcript, see below.
How do I know if I need an official or unofficial transcript?
Official transcripts are certified by the college and mailed to the receiving institution in a sealed envelope. This ensures that the transcript is unaltered and assures the receiving institution of its validity from the originating source. Official transcripts are usually only needed for formal college or job applications.
Unofficial transcripts can be downloaded and/or printed out by you or the college. An unofficial transcript is typically not accepted when formally applying to a college or job, but it allows you to review your transcript and work with an academic counselor to better understand how to transfer that credit.
For your call with our academic counselor, all you need is an unofficial transcript. This will allow us to see what prior credit you’ve earned and research where it can be transferred. The following documents are also acceptable if they’re easier for you to access: degree audits, degree evaluations, academic advising reports and even screenshots as long as the institution and student name are visible. Be sure to include all pages!
How long does it take to get your transcript?
Unofficial transcripts can usually be emailed, downloaded and/or printed right away once you follow the college’s online instructions. For official transcripts, most universities require two to three working days to process after receiving the request in the transcript or records office.
Can I get a free copy of my transcript?
Some universities offer a certain number of transcripts for free, and most offer unofficial transcripts at no charge. Official transcripts may have a fee ranging from $10-50 depending on the college.
I haven’t attended college in years. Will my transcript still be available?
Luckily, transcripts are available years after you attended or graduated from a college. If, by chance, the college you attended has closed, try to find out if it was part of a larger educational organization. The CDE recommends that you try to contact the parent organization first.
If you’re still unable to find the college or a branch of the college, try contacting any of the following organizations for help:
Department of Higher Education in the state in which the school you attended was located. There should be a link to request transcripts from closed schools.
Bureau for Private Postsecondary Secondary Education (BPPE) provides information on records in their possession as well as a link to their transfer request form.
Parchment is a private company that offers transcript recovery services.
At Pearson Accelerated Pathways, we love to help students find degree plans that accept as much of their prior credit as possible. In fact, we do your college research for you… for free! Once you provide our academic counselor with your college transcripts, they'll conduct an intensive college research process based specifically on your goals and transferrable credit. Then you’ll get a custom College Options Report of the best colleges we found to fit your degree plan, schedule, budget, credit transfer and more. You’ll be able to make side-by-side college comparisons based on the most important factors to you. If you haven’t set up an appointment with one of our expert academic counselors yet, be sure to reach out today to get your free College Options Report!