Graduation guarantees: Marketing ploy or essential tool?

By Tania Nguyen

Less than 40% of university students graduate from their starting institution in four years or fewer. In an attempt to boost these stubbornly low on-time graduation rates, a growing number of institutions began promoting "four year graduation guarantee" contracts. These contracts encourage students to take the necessary steps to complete in four years, such as enrolling in at least 15 credits per term, registering for classes early, and maintaining regular contact with an academic advisor. If a student follows the rules of the contract and fails to graduate on time, the institution pledges to cover additional tuition beyond four years.

Institutions see mixed results

Recently, the University at Buffalo (UB) received praise for its "Finish in 4" (FIF) campaign, which just graduated its first cohort since launching in 2012. An impressive 63% of students that opted into the inaugural FIF cohort graduated in four years, compared to 55% overall.

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