Students, take solid courseload

Kokomo Tribune

The percentage of adults with college degrees in Indiana has dropped over the last decade. The Hoosier State’s college attainment rate is 41st in the nation.

There is an urgency to raise the completion rates of two-year and four-year college degrees, as well as workforce credentials. And three years ago, the state took significant steps to help more students graduate.

Before 2012, 90 percent of degree programs at public colleges exceeded the usual 120 credit hours for a four-year degree and 60 credits for two-year degrees, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. After legislation streamlined credit requirements, more than 90 percent of programs now meet the standard. The commission estimates this change has saved students and taxpayers more than $35 million a year.

The state also improved transfer agreements between colleges in 2012, reducing the likelihood students would retake a course at another college.

“Despite this progress,” Commissioner for Higher Education Teresa Lubbers wrote in an op-ed, “we cannot afford to be complacent.”

She and the commission have not been. Last summer, they launched a new initiative to keep college students on track for graduation. Called “15 to Finish,” it encourages students to take at least 15 credit hours each semester.

To graduate on time, students need to complete a minimum of 30 credits per year, or 15 per semester. But just 3 in 10 students attending Indiana’s public colleges are doing so.

Each additional year of college costs students $50,000 in tuition, lost wages and related costs, according to the commission. Worse, state financial aid runs out for students after four years, increasing the probability they will drop out.

There’s an academic incentive to carry 15 credit hours each semester: Commission data show students who take at least 15 credit hours a semester earn higher grade point averages at every one of Indiana’s public colleges.

College freshmen soon will be choosing classes for the fall semester. Students, take 15 credit hours. The Commission for Higher Education has found you’ll be more likely to graduate, earn better grades and save money.

Distributed by the Hoosier State Press Association. Send comments to dr-editorial@greenfieldreporter.com.