Although most people finish college through to the end, it’s not uncommon for someone to have a drastic family emergency, personal issues, or frankly, not enough money to continue their educational endeavors. So when those things occur, and you have to quit going to school for the meanwhile, you have to ask your institution the question, “How long are college credits good for?”
Edufax states that college credits are good for a lifetime – but that does not mean that they will be valid for the degree or major that you are going for. As quoted from the article on Creditnet’s Credit Repair Forum:
I went to college after high school, but did not finish my degree. I am 2 credits shy of finishing junior year and am now 30 years old and want to finish my college degree. How long do I have before my credits are “no good” anymore?
In most cases, college credits do not “expire”, but older credits (and some new ones, for that matter) are not always transferable because some of your courses may no longer fit distribution requirements. If you go back to your original college and continue your studies there, some of your credits should probably transfer as electives, even if they cannot be counted towards your major.
Every school has its own policy, and, to make matters more complicated, they change the policies from year to year. However, since returning students now constitute a larger percentage of undergraduate student bodies, most colleges have a dean or a specific administrator who handles these applicants exclusively. Call the school which interests you and find out who handles re-entry students. Ask exactly what you need to do to make the most of the time and money you have already invested.
Also, there are a number of schools across the US like Charter Oak State University in CT, which helps students re-evaluate older credits and life experience and assists in organizing the quickest, most direct path toward completing an undergraduate degree.
Another person on the forum says that the above information is true – as well as saying that the worst that the college could do in deciding whether or not your credits are “good credits” is test you to make sure you remember some of the material.
Granted, they probably only do that when it’s been quite a while.
Other sources say that your college credit hours will not count after ten years – although that may not be true for at least general education courses.
I, personally, have friends who have left school to help in their family businesses. Their credits still count, and it’s been roughly five years.
I have other friends who have majored in subjects like Business, only to change their mind a couple years down the road, and re-enter school, where their prerequisites still counted towards their new degree path.
I wouldn’t be worried about it, as long as you have a plan to go back to school – and you actually stick with that plan.
You’ll want to get it done sooner than later anyways.