About 90 percent of degrees offered at Indiana public universities require 120 credit hours, meaning students need to take 15 credit hours per semester to graduate on time. Yet the majority of undergrads don’t know that. That’s why the Indiana Commission for Higher Education is launching its 15 to Finish campaign.
Only 30 percent of Hoosiers complete a bachelor’s degree on time. And an extra year of college costs an average of $50,000. Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers says students who take 15 credit hours a semester are more likely to graduate, and graduate in four years. And 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; they’re providing special tuition discounts," Lubber said. " 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.”
Purdue junior Sarah Correll, the student member of the Commission for Higher Ed, says she’s leading an intercampus completion council to help ensure the 15 to Finish campaign is working effectively. She says the council includes a representative from each public university and college and several private institutions.
“Colleges have different purposes and different groups of people that they’re serving, and all of those are important. We really need to see more than just the big research institutions’ viewpoints," Correll said. "So this helps us to get ideas from everyone and see those issues that might otherwise go by the wayside from a student standpoint.”
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.