Being the Most Prepared: Earning College Credit in High School

The Scouts have a motto: Be prepared.

They might not have been thinking about college when they coined that phrase, but we believe it still applies.

There are lots of ways to prepare for college. One that you may be doing already is earning college credit in high school. Whether it’s through AP and IB exams or taking classes at a local community college, taking college-prep courses is a great way to get a jump start on your degree.

Plus, coming in with college credits means you can take more electives and graduate sooner, which means more money saved.

PSU offers multiple different ways to earn college credit during high school:

SAT and ACT scores

While not directly earning college credit, SAT and ACT scores can help certain students’ application in other ways.

  • For international students (for whom ACT and SAT are NOT required), these scores can help them meet the English Language Proficiency Requirement required for class placement.
  • These scores can also help  meet admission requirements in the case of a GPA below our minimum requirement (3.0).

Advanced Placement (AP) Exams

If you have taken AP courses in high school you may be able to earn college credit you can use toward your degree at PSU. If on your AP exam for a given class your score is high enough, you may be eligible for college credit.

AP courses are also a great way to get a preview of the kind of academic rigor and content that you may encounter in your college classes.

To request an official copy of your AP transcripts, visit the College Board website.

International Baccalaureate (IB) Exams

Like AP courses, IB classes are a way that you can both gain collegiate-level academic experience and receive college credit by doing well on IB exams.

Students enrolling at Portland State who earn their IB diploma with a score of 30 or above will receive a total of 45 college credits (!) and sophomore class standing. Review this chart to see how your specific exam scores will transfer to PSU credit.

To request an official copy of your IB transcripts, visit the International Baccalaureate website.

College Level Exam Program (CLEP)

CLEP subject exams, like the more general AP and IB exams, can help you enter your freshman year with college credit, the results of which can be seen in this chart.

If you are interested in taking CLEP exams, it is recommended that you sign up for them one month in advance with Testing Services (part of Student Health and Counseling) or with another recognized CLEP testing center.

To request an official copy of your CLEP transcripts, visit the College Board website.


Earning college credit during high school is an investment in your future. Coming in with college credit means that you are more likely to graduate on time and that means saving money! It also allows you to jump into your major and start learning about the things you are passionate about.

Remember, if you want your college-prep courses to count you must send the appropriate transcripts to the Office of Admissions:

Office of Admissions
Portland State University
PO Box 751
Portland, OR 97207-0751

Learn more about other ways to earn credit at PSU!

Multicultural Retention Services Empower PSU Students

At PSU, we understand that supporting students means helping them succeed at every opportunity. Each student is unique, and that means that they all need equally unique support.

That support can come from many different places.

Multicultural Retention Services (MRS) provides academic support, advising, referrals and advocacy to students who are first generation, low income and/or from diverse and multicultural backgrounds. MRS offers support to students through services for Latino/a, Asian, Pacific Islander, African, African American and Diversity Scholars.

Cultural, academic and social support takes many forms, and MRS has services designed to build a strong sense of community that is essential to successfully navigate PSU.

Who can benefit from these services at PSU?

Student mentors and staff help students navigate through these programs, the results of which come in the form of better grades, more financial certainty, a greater support network and a heightened graduation rate.

Learn more about MRS and see how the communities on campus are encouraging students to pursue their passions and get their degree.

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award

You’ve been admitted, you’ve filled out your FAFSA, you’ve received your financial aid award letter. Here are a few tips to help you understand your financial aid award.

Start by Looking at the Total Cost of Attendance

We encourage you to hit the books, do your research! Even though schools will typically only bill you for direct costs (tuition bill), it’s important to estimate your additional expenses such as housing, food, books and transportation in order to budget accurately.

Next, learn about the types of financial aid that you are eligible for

Your Financial Aid is based on many factors unique to you. (Don’t worry,  it’s all calculated  for you) here are the major ones:

Your academic record, family and finances:

  • Your financial strength (Estimated Family Contribution or EFC from FAFSA)
  • Your high school or college transfer GPA

Your college program and enrollment

  • Your admission level (undergraduate, graduate etc)
  • Your academic level (freshman, sophomore, junior etc)
  • Your enrollment level (full time, part time etc)

Your state of residence

  • In state Oregon resident
  • Out of state (not an Oregon resident)

Your financial aid package will help you make clear comparisons among the other financial aid offers you may have received.

Then, map out your degree path. Save time and money!

We are committed to helping you graduate in four years, saving you thousands of dollars in tuition and college costs. Check out this snapshot of how PSU compares to other universities in the area:

psucostcomparison

Kick the tires, crunch the numbers and get an estimate of what you’ll pay while at PSU. The bottom line is that you should know the value of your investment and shouldn’t feel like you’re throwing your money away.

Money-out-the-window

College is an investment and we want you to be successful which is why we’ve worked to ease the cost of college by offering more financial aid opportunities.

Fill in the Gaps

For some students, the financial aid programs may not cover all their costs, which means students need to find alternative options to decrease bills and increase financial aid. For other options, check out the Financial Aid Resources page at www.pdx.edu/finaid/resources

If your parents plan on helping you out, make sure you talk to them and know the difference between borrowing money in their name and your name. Paying for college can seem overwhelming but know there are lots of options so be smart, plan ahead, and only borrow what you really need so you can set yourself up for success down the road.

As always, contact the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships for assistance with award letters or to answer any questions regarding financial aid.