State Unveils 15-Credit-Hour Plan For On-Time Graduations
July 28, 2014—By BRANDON SMITH, IPBS
The Indiana Commission for Higher Education launched a new campaign today as a part of its goal to boost the state’s four-year college graduation rate.
The ’15 to Finish’ campaign is a coordinated, statewide effort to inform students, parents, and advisors about the importance of taking 15 credit hours per semester.
Only 30 percent of Hoosiers complete a bachelor’s degree on time, and an extra year of college costs an average of $50,000.
With the vast majority of degrees at Indiana public universities requiring 120 credit hours, students need to take 15 credit hours per semester to finish on time,and yet only 33 percent of state financial aid recipients report taking that many.
According to the commission, students who take 15 credit hours a semester are more likely to graduate in four years.
Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says schools are doing their share, in part because their state funding is tied to performance metrics that include on-time completion.
“Colleges and universities are doing this through special offices,” she says. “They’re providing special tuition discounts. We’ve seen some that reduced the price of tuition in the summer so if students did fall below 15, they could come and pay less in the summer time. Some provided free housing the summer.”
Lubbers adds that an important new tool being rolled out this fall is degree maps for each student.
“Every student gets a degree map that says this is what you need to do to graduate on time,” she says. “And if you follow this degree map and your course is not available to you, you are guaranteed a free course now.”
Purdue junior Sarah Correll, the student representative on the Commission for Higher Education, says she knows taking 15 credit hours isn’t always easy, which is why she also encourages students to considers summer classes.
“Maybe I can’t take 15 credit hours a semester – I’m working a lot, I have some other things going on, I can’t do 15,” she says. “But I can do six over the summer and so it’s not such a big deal. I can do 12, 12 and six.”
Lubbers says at IUPUI, the simple act of telling students they’d need 15 credit hours to graduate on time led to double the number of students taking 15 hours.