Most universities measure their performance using 6-year graduation rates and tout graduation statistics after 6 years. But very few students go to college excited at the thought of graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 6 long years. A 2010 report by Complete College America demonstrates that after 6 years the graduation rate for a student seeking a bachelor’s degree in Ohio is 59.7 percent. The 4 year graduation rate is an abysmal 29.5 percent.
Students who are full-time for 5-6 years represent the majority, and students who drop out but later come back to finish their degree are a minority. Given this, limiting students to only 8 semesters of study helps ensure that they are making the most of their time in the university system.
One solution to help students graduate on time is to offer incentives to students who graduate in only 8 semesters. An example of this innovative thinking can be found next door in Indiana. Indiana University at Kokomo provides tuition incentives to students who meet certain requirements.
Students who successfully pass 30 credit hours per year and make continuous progress receive a tuition discount. The cumulative discount over three years is worth a full year’s tuition. This policy rewards students for staying on track and helps them to better plan their college decisions in order to receive discounted tuition.
The Indiana University system has also offered tuition grants to full-time students who maintain a GPA of 3.0 or higher for the academic year. It is designed to help offset rising tuition costs and reward students who are performing well.
Indiana has also introduced a 25 percent summer tuition discount at public universities. This year, enrollment has increased by 12.5 percent at the regional Kokomo campus. Reducing the cost of summer classes has allowed students to stay on-track to graduate in 4 years and continue their education.
Lowering tuition works best when it benefits everyone in the system by providing incentives. Offering a tuition discount for students who are on-track to graduate in four years saves them money in the long run. They won’t be falling behind in college and paying five or six years’ worth of tuition. It saves the university resources by graduating them on time and allows the institution to enroll more rising students. Rather than simply lowering tuition for all students, using targeted tuition discounts encourages students to stay on track with their education.