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Lubbers Builds On Congressional Testimony With '15 To Finish' Program

Brandon Smith
Indiana Public Broadcasting

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

Tthe 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 a third 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 – you know, I’m working a lot, I have some other things going on, I can’t do 15," she says. "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," Lubbers says.  "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 a doubling in the number of students taking 15 hours in just one semester.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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