College guarantees incoming students a diploma in four years if qualifying terms are met
Augustana College will underscore its high four-year graduation rate this fall by giving incoming students a written guarantee that they'll have a diploma in four years.
According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, 52.2 percent of the 22,023 students who graduated from private colleges in Illinois in 2010 did it in four years. At Augustana, 71.1 percent did.
Of the 51 private colleges in Illinois, Augustana ranks sixth for highest percentage of students graduating in four years.
"We know that families are analyzing the cost of college more closely than ever," said Augustana President Steve Bahls. "Although the great majority of our students do graduate in four years, we hope that a written guarantee will make it clear to our families that they don't have to budget for an extra year, or even an extra term."
President Bahls continued, "We can make this promise because each May at commencement, I know that nine out of every 10 students have finished their degree in four years, thanks to our ongoing commitment to a four-year education. This is particularly important in an era when more and more colleges are talking about six-year graduation rates."
Kent Barnds, vice president of enrollment, communication and planning, said he believes Augustana is the first private college in Illinois to offer this guarantee to incoming students.
First-year students will have until the fifth week of the spring term to sign the agreement. Through the agreement, they promise to keep up their academic work, declare their major at the end of their first year, meet regularly with advisors and meet all registration, advising and financial deadlines. In return, the college guarantees that earning a degree will take no more than four years.
However, if a student completes 12 academic terms and complies with all the terms of the agreement but is unable to graduate solely due to the unavailability of a required course(s), then the college will pay the tuition for additional required coursework.
President Bahls pointed out that Augustana's four-year graduation guarantee includes the college's unique Augie Choice program that allots each student $2,000 to support a qualifying hands-on learning experience, such as international study, research or an internship.
"We want students to know that graduating in four years doesn't mean sacrificing the extra opportunities, like Augie Choice, athletics and other extra-curricular opportunities, that will help them stand out when it comes to starting their career or being accepted to graduate school," Bahls said.
Ashleigh Johnston, 309-794-7833