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CMU joins 450 universities in pledge to increase number of students who graduate in 4 years

Central Michigan University is one of more than 450 universities nationwide taking part in a universal effort to help more students receive degrees in a timely fashion.

On Oct. 2, CMU joined an effort organized by the American Association of State Colleges and Universities and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities to increase the accessibility of a college education. Specifically for CMU, this meant working towards increasing the number of students who graduate in four years.

“As CMU develops its enrollment management strategies, we will create a plan to graduate more students in four years while enhancing their educational experience and controlling tuition costs,” Vice President for Enrollment and Student Services Steven Johnson said in a news release.

CMU approved a tuition increase of 1.96 percent, a number that continues to be the lowest increase of all Michigan public universities. The 1.96 percent increase translated to tuition rates of $365 per undergraduate credit hour. Out-of-state students will pay $789 per credit hour. CMU continues to be the fourth-most expensive public university in Michigan, behind Michigan Technological University, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and Michigan State University.

Another key aspect of this pledge is to not only increase access to college education and decrease the amount of time it takes to receive a degree, but also control students’ costs of attendance.

Johnson said a newly-formed enrollment management committee will begin to develop a course of action when it meets for the first time in late October.

Other committee charges include increasing student recruitment, academic standards and student support throughout their time spent at CMU to improve retention and timely graduation.

According to numbers released by the registrar’s office in May, 2,030 students received undergraduate degrees from CMU, a number that has increased from 1,958 students a year earlier, which translates to an increase of more than 3 percent.

Erin Aiello, a fifth-year senior from Lake Orion, is one of many students who wasn’t able to graduate in the traditional four years.

“When I went in for my final audit, there were some credits that had not been accounted for in a previous audit, which messed up my plan to graduate in four years,” Aiello said. “I originally thought I would be graduating in four years, and I know a lot of people who have felt the same way.”

This initiative taken by CMU is a challenge to boost the nation’s six-year undergraduate degree attainment to 60 percent and award an additional 3.8 million baccalaureate degrees by 2025. CMU currently reports a six-year graduation rate of 54.3 percent, which exceeds the 45.6 percent average of Michigan’s 15 public universities.

Aiello said another factor that has an impact on the amount of time students spend at CMU depends on how many credits they plan to take each semester.

“For some people, taking more than 15 credits a semester is a lot to take on, depending upon your major,” she said. “I know a lot of students who are taking really hard classes or who are taking classes that require a lot of out of class time to work on projects, and they find it hard to take more than 12 credits or so, but I think people try to take as much as they can handle, since for the most part people want to graduate on time.”

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