State campaign pushes students to finish college on time

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Indiana Higher Education Commissioner Teresa Lubbers joined 400 Hoosier students and family members for the official launch of the state’s new “15 to Finish” campaign Monday at IUPUI
The statewide effort is designed to push more Indiana students to graduate from college on time by completing at least 15 credits each semester.

Lubbers said that the Commission for Higher Education calculated that it costs about $50,000 per student for an extra year of college – and by that time, most students have run out of financial aid.

“It’s important for them to stay on target to graduate on time because extra credits come with a huge price tag,” said Lubbers.

The program is based on a successful initiative developed by the University of Hawaii system, which saw a 15-percent increase in the number of students taking 15 credits in the campaign's first year. Indiana’s effort aims to change what Lubbers says is a longstanding misperception that taking 12 credits per semester is enough to graduate on time. The campaign will use a combination of direct outreach, earned/social media and related resources.

In response to legislation backed by the commission two years ago that streamlined credit requirements at the state’s public colleges, the majority of bachelor’s degree programs in the state are 120 credits and associate degrees are 60 credits. To graduate on time, students need to complete a minimum of 30 credits per year, or 15 per semester.

An analysis of course-taking patterns at Indiana colleges indicates that there are a number of full-time students at every campus who fall short of completing 30 credits each year by only a course or two.

“We need to look at how we deliver higher education,” Lubbers said. She hopes to build a more “student-centered system of higher education.”

Lubbers said that there are degree maps for students that will help outline what students need to do and what courses to take to graduate on time. Lubbers acknowledged that a problem students face is when courses aren’t available when they are needed. In that event, she said, a free course will be guaranteed to the students.

“This is trying to build smarter consumers of higher education for both students and families,” Lubbers said.

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