Adams State is a national example for promoting faster degree completion


Adams State University's efforts to speed students' time toward degree completion -"Finish in Four" - are lauded as a best practice by Complete College America on its website.

The national nonprofit organization works with states to significantly increase the number of Americans with quality career certificates or college degrees and to close attainment gaps for traditionally underrepresented populations.

"We are proud to be recognized nationally for our work to reduce time toward a degree and support student success," said Adams State President Beverlee J. McClure. "We value the importance Gov. Hickenlooper has placed on this initiative and Colorado's commitment to increase the number of citizens with post-secondary credentials."

Adams State's average student credit load increased 11 percent over the last two years and continues to grow. Students must average 15 credits per semester in order to graduate within four years. Complete College America attributes Adams State's success to using both publicity and financial incentives to change student behavior. Because the university's full-time tuition rate applies to enrollment in 12 to 20 credits a semester, students are encouraged to take advantage of those "free" credits. The message is that attending full time saves both time and money and speeds progress toward a degree. Adams State also awards $500 scholarships to students who complete 30 credits per year, serving as both reward and motivation.

Complete College America's website explains: "Federal financial aid policies only require that students be enrolled in 12 credits each semester to be considered eligible for assistance. Most damaging, this standard has become known as 'full-time' attendance. To shorten time to degree, incentives must be created to increase the number of students who enroll in 15 credits or more each semester."

Encouraging "Full-time is Fifteen" enrollment is one of five "Game Changers" the organization helps implement through its Alliance of States, which includes Colorado. The other best practices are Performance Funding, Co-requisite Remediation, Structured Schedules, and Guided Pathways to Success (GPS).

By Julie Waechter