Missouri is addressing college affordability with an initiative called “15 to Finish” that encourages students to take 15 credit hours each semester. Fewer than a third of students at Missouri public institutions take 15 credit hours per semester, according to the nonprofit group Complete College America, even though that’s what it takes to graduate in four years.
As part of the program, the Missouri Department of Higher Education is working with Complete College America on promotional materials and ways to personalize the initiative for each campus in the state.
“In many cases, students need to take just one more three-hour course every semester to graduate on time,” Zora Mulligan, Missouri commissioner of higher education, said in a release. “But completing 15 hours of college credit each semester, students can graduate earlier, enter the workforce sooner, and save thousands of dollars in education.”
An issue for many students is that they are already in the workforce, trying to make ends meet while attending classes. The University of Missouri-St. Louis has been working to push more traditional students to take 15 credit hours for the last year, raising its four-year graduation rate to the highest level in school history, but administrators remain mindful that it’s not for every student.
“Lots of our students are holding full-time jobs, making it more difficult to have students managing a workload of 40 to 50 hours per week and classes,” Adam Bryd Jr., dean of enrollment services, said in an article for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “But we’ve done this already. We’ll just work case-by-case, looking at their work schedule and class schedule. In many cases, our students find they can pick up an online class to get them those extra three credit hours.”