State Wants More College Students Graduating On Time

Jul 28, 2014

Sarah Correll, Purdue junior and member of the Commission for Higher Education.
Credit Brandon Smith

The Indiana Commission for Higher Education wants to help college students finish their degrees on  time, unveiling Monday its ’15 to Finish’ campaign. The initiative 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.

Purdue junior Sarah Correll, the  student representative on the Commission for Higher Education, says she knows taking 15 credit hours isn’t always easy. She says students should know how big a role summer classes can play.

“Maybe I can’t take 15 credit hours a semester," says Correll. "You know, I’m working a lot, I have some other things  going on, I can’t do 15. But I can do six over the summer and so it’s not such a big deal; I can do 12, 12  and six.” 

Higher Ed Commissioner Teresa Lubbers says schools are also doing their share, in part because  their state funding is tied to performance metrics that include on-time completion. Lubbers says 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," says Lubbers. "And if you  follow this degree map and your course is not available to you, you are guaranteed a free course now.” 

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 in just one semester.