CPE: College Freshmen Need 15 to Finish

Jul 15, 2018

Credit Creative Commons

Kentucky’s college freshmen this fall are being urged to take 15 credit hours to become nearly twice as likely to graduate on time. 

A new policy brief by the Council on Postsecondary Education finds that the likelihood of students graduating on time greatly improves for students taking 30 credit hours their first year. 

Chief Academic Officer Aaron Thompson says taking 15 hours a semester can help close the achievement gap among under-represented minority and low-income students.

"Students of color and low income students are coming to our campuses and experiencing what I call the immigrant experience," Thompson told WKU Public Radio. "It's new, it's foreign, and in many cases, they may be first-generation coming to our campuses."

CPE research finds that minority students completing 30 credit hours their first year have a 77 percent graduation rate compared to just 16 percent for those taking less than 30 hours. 

On-time graduation is two years for an associate degree and four years for a bachelor’s degree.  The CPE report recommends that colleges and universities strengthen their advising and reach out to students when they attempt to change a major, sign up for a course not on their academic plan, or register for less than 15 credits per semester.

Another recommendation is that colleges and universities adopt a tuition structure that incentivizes students to take a full load.