News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

May 23, 2012

Graduate college in four years? ISU ‘guarantees’ it

Contract holds both university and students accountable

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State University has announced a four-year graduation guarantee for students enrolling this fall and beyond.

The guarantee assures eligible students, who must sign a contract, that they will be able to complete a bachelor’s degree within four years. If not, they will be able to take remaining courses tuition free.

University officials said the guarantee is part of ISU’s commitment to keeping college affordable for students, and will help ensure students a quicker start for their careers.

“The hope is that this will result in more students finishing in four years,” which in turn, will save students money, ISU President Dan Bradley said in an interview today.

“Just the cost of going to school an extra year is close to $20,000,” Bradley said. Students also lose out on income they would earn if they were out in the workforce.

The Sycamore Graduation Guarantee, which is for first-time, full-time students, outlines the responsibilities of students and of the university that are necessary to achieve the goal of graduation in four years.

The program will be rolled out in June, during new-student orientation.

To take advantage of the guarantee, students must sign a contract during their freshman year. If they meet their commitments under the contract and find themselves unable to graduate in four years, the university will cover the cost of tuition and required fees for any remaining required courses.

The financial rewards of on-time graduation go beyond the savings in tuition and other college expenses, said John Beacon, vice president for enrollment management, marketing and communications.

“Four-year graduates will be able to enter the workforce earlier than many college graduates,” Beacon said in a news release. “Savings from on-time graduation and earnings realized from working sooner can be worth $48,000 in the first year. Participating in the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee can make that happen.”

The guarantee applies to all programs of 128 semester hours or less. Student requirements under the terms of the guarantee include:

• Meet with an adviser to develop an appropriate course plan.

• Declare and be admitted to a major by the start of the sophomore year.

• Complete 30 to 32 credit hours each year and meet all degree requirements.

• Monitor academic progress and notify advisers if unable to register for a required course.

• Apply for graduation by Oct. 1 of their senior year.

The university’s responsibilities under the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee include:

• Provide access to quality advising throughout a student’s time at ISU.

• Provide tools that enable students to monitor progress toward degree completion.

• Substitute a different course or independent study, when appropriate.

• Pay tuition and mandatory fees for any additional required courses if course substitution is not an option.

“I think it puts some pressure on us and some pressure on students in a fair way that ultimately should help us both meet our goals of getting students graduated in a shorter amount of time and more students graduated total,” Bradley said.

The earliest that ISU would have to pay a student’s tuition under the guarantee would be 2016. Also, the agreement would be binding between ISU and the student, Bradley said.

The university will work with students who fall behind schedule due to extenuating circumstances, such as financial constraints or a change of majors.

The university also will provide students with an annual report of whether they are on track to graduate in four years and, if not, what steps they can take to get back on track.

“We plan to monitor this pretty closely,” Bradley said.

The expectation is that students, also, “are going to be more vigilant about monitoring their progress,” said Teresa Exline, special assistant to the president.

More information about the Sycamore Graduation Guarantee is available at www.indstate.edu/stayontrack.

Sue Loughlin can be reached at (812) 231-4235 or sue.loughlin@tribstar.com.

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