Complete College on Time with 15 Credits Per Semester

On-time graduation rates at public Indiana colleges and universities are staggeringly low. Only one in 10 students at two-year colleges finish a degree on time, and only three in 10 students finish a four-year degree on time, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s 2014 College Completion Reports.

The reports provide a robust, comprehensive picture of student success at each public college and university in Indiana. They include data on transfer and part-time students and disaggregated data by race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status to focus attention on persistent achievement gaps.

Statewide, there’s a 24-point completion gap at two-year colleges between the highest-performing racial/ethnic group and the lowest-performing group. At four-year colleges, the gap is 31 points. Additionally, less than 4% of Pell grant recipients graduate on time from two-year colleges. About 17% of students receiving this need-based grant graduate on time from four-year colleges.

Why do these low graduation rates matter? First, graduating on time yields greater returns for students by lowering their cost per degree. The estimated cost of an additional year of schooling to a student is $50,000 in tuition, fees and lost potential income. What’s more: Indiana college graduates borrow over $27,000 for a four-year degree. As loan default rates rise, so does the importance of cutting college costs. The surest way to lower a student’s cost per degree is to finish sooner.

Second, institutions and the state bear significant costs for extra semesters as well, in lost productivity and additional financial aid awards. According to the College Completion Reports, four-year schools spend about $62,000 for each degree produced. About 30% of students don’t complete a four-year degree within eight years, adding to productivity losses for institutions.

Of course, for many students who are working or raising families, attending part-time may be the best option. Unfortunately, as students take additional semesters and hit state and federal financial aid limits, their probability of completing the degree declines. In fact, full-time students are six times more likely to graduate with a four-year degree than part-time students. And students who invest in their education but do not receive a diploma bear the greatest lost, reaping nearly zero return on their investment, according to the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s Return on Investment Reports.

Fortunately, the state has made great strides on both policy and institutional levels to improve completion rates. For instance, thanks to recent reforms, state financial aid now funds completed credits rather than attempted credits to incentivize completion.

Additionally, credit creep legislation cut the number of credits per degree to 120 for four-year degrees and 60 for two-year degrees. This means students who take 15 credit hours per semester set themselves up to finish on time.

As we work to combat student loan default rates and the rising costs of college, we must continue to ask how we can use dollars more efficiently. Tackling graduation rates, and ensuring those who invest in their education complete it in the shortest time possible, is imperative to minimizing those costs.

To read institution-specific data in the 2014 College Completion Reports, visit the Indiana Commission for Higher Education’s web site.

Hannah Rozow is a senior at Indiana University – Bloomington and a student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.

Guest Blog: College Course Costs Not Always What They Appear to Be

Budgeting for college can be tricky business. Students and families must take into consideration tuition rates, living expenses, books, transportation and more, but even the most diligent financial planners cannot be fully effective when undisclosed costs are imposed.
This summer, I enrolled in an online class at Ivy Tech to fulfill a requirement before fall semester. As Ivy Tech reports, undergraduate in-state tuition is $116 per credit hour, so I anticipated a bill of roughly $350 for the course.  However, including fees and homework access, the course has cost roughly $550.
Where did the extra $200 go? Roughly half went to mandatory fees including a technology fee and student life fee, which are listed below the tuition chart on Ivy Tech’s web site. The other half purchased access to MyMathLab, an online portal that houses required homework and quizzes. This course is not $116 per credit hour but closer to $183 … and that doesn’t include the book or exam proctor fees.
Unfortunately, students (at most, if not all, colleges and universities) are all too familiar with these additional, often hidden, costs of school, both institutional and course-specific. While institution-wide mandatory fees are generally listed on a bill statement, they are not always included in the per-hour tuition figure. Furthermore, course-specific and professor-specific costs – such as access to homework and class participation clickers – are often unknown until the first day of class. For many students, finding a couple hundred more dollars for each class simply is not a financial possibility.
But Indiana colleges and universities can make a few minor changes to assist students in their financial planning. First, institutions must make tuition and mandatory fees more transparent by reporting them as one figure. While most institutions combine tuition and fees for estimations of annual cost of attendance, fees are often left out of per credit hour figures, making the tuition rate misleading and confusing to students. Second, professors should report any additional fees required for their classes at the time of enrollment to allow students to make the best financial decision for them.
As college costs continue to rise, students and families must have accurate and complete information to effectively budget. Transparency in all fees will help them financially prepare for school.


Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. A senior at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish.

STEM Jobs Becoming Larger Emphasis in Indiana

Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. An undergraduate at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in economics and political science with a minor in Spanish.

Indiana needs more workers educated in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

According to a study by the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce, the demand for STEM jobs in Indiana will rise to 4% of the total workforce by 2018. Of those 115,570 jobs, 90% will require some postsecondary education, and 43% will require at least a bachelor’s degree. So what are colleges and universities doing about it?

Institutions across the state have launched initiatives to meet projected demand. Many of these efforts aim to meet the needs of a particular region, while some serve the state as a whole. Here are some of the projects underway in Indiana:

  • Purdue University College of Engineering introduced a plan to increase undergraduate enrollment by 10% and graduate enrollment by 25% to 30% over the next 5 years.
  • Ivy Tech Community College received a $3.1 million grant from North Central Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) to train 44,000 people of the North Central region for STEM-based careers over the next 5 years.
  • The University of Notre Dame’s Advanced Placement Training and Incentive Program in Indiana (AP-TIP IN) works to increase enrollment in AP courses – math, science and English – and increase the number of qualifying scores on AP exams at 33 Indiana public high schools.
  • In an effort to attract students at an earlier age, Ivy Tech-Northeast hosts Adventure and Imagination Summer STEM Camp for students ages 11 to 14. Similarly, Indiana University-Bloomington hosts Adventures in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math summer camp for middle school students.
  • Southwestern Indiana STEM (SwISTEM), through a partnership between the University of Southern Indiana and Ivy Tech-Southwest, aims to increase the number of students in STEM majors and educate those students in a hands-on, team oriented way.
  • The state funding formula for 2013-2015 includes a high-impact degree metric, meaning a portion of public research institutions’ funding will be tied to the number of STEM degrees produced.

While institutional initiatives are an integral part to increasing the number of STEM-qualified workers, their efforts are only part of the equation. Involvement from the business community is vital. By offering job-shadowing opportunities and school presentations to local students, businesses can incite student interest in STEM education at an earlier age. Additionally, businesses should partner with local colleges and universities to ensure that students graduate not only with a STEM degree but with the professional skills needed to be a good employee.

The state needs more STEM-educated workers, and if there is a collaborative effort between colleges, universities and businesses, demand will be met.

Quality Over Quantity Needed in Student Guidance

Hannah Rozow is the student representative on the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. An undergraduate at Indiana University in Bloomington, she is pursuing a double major in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish.

In an effort to increase college completion rates in Indiana, many institutions are now stressing the importance of academic planning by encouraging students to meet with their advisors regularly. But, students don’t need additional meetings; they need quality guidance.

Two years ago, when I sat down for my initial advising meeting at Indiana University, I took no time in explaining to the advisor my intended career path, specified major, and exhaustive list of courses I wished to take during freshman year. My advisor, however, was uninterested. She told me instead that college should be a time to explore my interests. She said I should expect to change my major two or three times and that graduating in four years is a thing of the past. Despite my preparedness, I left the meeting discouraged and enrolled in fewer courses than I had intended.

Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, and the ramifications of poor advising can be severe. Students that take too few or irrelevant courses during their freshman year immediately fall off pace for on-time graduation, potentially requiring them to enroll in additional semesters. Furthermore, freshmen that do not meet the required number of credit hours to become sophomores may be ineligible for federal Pell grants and institutional scholarships. These financial barriers can make an already costly college education unattainable for many students.

But, with effective advising, these situations can be avoided. The requirements of an undergraduate degree are often unclear to new and returning students; advisors should be there to provide appropriate guidance to facilitate, as opposed to hinder, academic progress. Before institutions begin to require additional advising meetings, they need to ensure that these meetings are indeed serving their purpose: student success.