As the pressures of tuition increases and student loan interest rates continue to compound, GRU is taking the lead to help students prepare and be aware of the benefits of completing an undergraduate degree in four years.
“Our new program, 4 Years 4 U, is focused on showing students how important it is to graduate in four years and how it can be done,” said Julie Goley, Director of Career Services. “We are starting with the new student orientation sessions that begin in early June.”
The logic is simple: money matters.
“Currently the interest rate on a Subsidized Direct Loan is 3.4 percent, but it is scheduled to go back up to 6.8 percent on July 1,” Goley said. “With the increased interest rates, students can expect to pay $8,000 to 10,000 more a year for each additional year of coursework beyond the four-year period. Two years of additional coursework will equal approximately half of the annual earnings a new graduate can expect in their entry-level position upon graduation.”
Starting this fall, students will be able to participate in a pledge program to commit to a timely four-year completion, according to Goley. Freshmen will sign an agreement to participate, pledging to take at least 15 credit hours each fall and spring to ensure completion of the 124 credit hours required of most undergraduate degree programs.
The program correlates with recent changes to GRU’s advising program, which will focus on students’ progress much more over the first two years. The new Centralized Advising Office will work with all students for their first two years to ensure they are on schedule and refer to appropriate supports when needed.
“Academic departments will be coordinating four-year course maps to help students better understand their matriculation plan as it relates to registration each term,” said Dr. Carol Rychly, Vice President of Academic and Faculty Affairs. “These coordinated efforts are critical to ensure students have the resources needed to adequately plan and commit to a four-year timeline for degree completion.”
The 4 Years 4 U program is a critical component of the Complete College Georgia initiative launched by Gov. Nathan Deal to address higher education completion across the state. By 2020, over 60 percent of jobs in Georgia are expected to require a certificate, associate degree, or bachelor’s degree. Presently, approximately 42 percent of the state’s young adults are prepared at this level, according to Goley.
To prepare students for these jobs, GRU must graduate more students and do so in an efficient, cost-effective way. The state’s comprehensive research universities have an average graduation rate of 73.2 percent and currently, the GRU undergraduate graduation rate is 26 percent.
“The 4 Years 4 U program is a critical component in our ability to measure our success as an institution,” said Dr. Roman Cibirka, Vice Provost of GRU. “In fact, the University System of Georgia is implementing a performance-based funding model that will include graduation rate as a measure of success and thereby perhaps influence the allocation of resources. Although the pledge begins with coordinated efforts by the Advisement Office, it is truly a comprehensive initiative of all academic program faculty at GRU to ensure its success. If our students commit to the program, we are committed to seeing them succeed in timely degree completion.”
For more information, visit www.gru.edu/4years4u/index.php.