Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator
One of the best things you can do for yourself in college is keeping yourself on track to graduate on time. Only 3 in 10 students in Indiana finishing their Bachelor’s degree within 4 years and that creates financial challenges for students who fall behind on graduation. Not averaging 15 credits per semester puts you off of a 4 year graduation plan which comes with a host of potential issues.
First and foremost is the cost of attending one extra year of college. An extra year at Purdue costs an extra $10,002 for in-state tuition ($28,804 for nonresident). Not to mention the costs of housing, food, books and other school supplies, and the cost of travelling home a few times per year. All in all, the estimated cost to be a Purdue student is $23,032 each year ($41,994 for nonresidents). That’s a lot of extra money to spend for the same degree that can be obtained in four years.
Remember: tuition at Purdue is at a flat rate for anyone taking 8 or more credits hours, so whether you’re attending part-time with 8 credits or are registered for 18 credits, the cost is the same!
If the extra tuition expenses isn’t enough of a downside for taking more than 4 years, the extra year lost also gives a couple other undesirable effects:
More time for student loan interest to accrue:
If you had borrowed all the $27,000 available to you in Federal Direct Loans for your first four years your balance on those loans would increase from $1,080 with an extra year of interest to accrue (assuming a 4% interest rate). This isn’t even considering any extra borrowing for the additional time or the interest that accrues during the repayment portion of the loan.
Lost wages and retirement: NerdWallet recently did a study into the impact of taking extra years to graduate. One extra year would result in approximately $46,355 in lost income and $82,074 in lost lifetime retirement savings!
Adding up the tuition paid, lost wages and retirement savings equals an incredible $138,431 for the extra year to get the degree ($157,233 for nonresident). Obviously this is not an ideal situation, so here are some tips to help keep you on track for graduating in four years!
So what can you do?
Take 15 credits every semester! Almost all degree require 120 credits which smoothly divides into eight semesters of 15 credits. While it might be tempting to take less credits your first semester or two, you’ll have to make those up another semester which you may regret when you’re taking those extra credits along with upper-level courses. Plus, students who start out at 15 credits per semester are more likely to graduate.
It may be obvious, but it’s important to pass your classes and earn grades that allow them to count for requirements. Many courses in your major or that you need for pre-reqs require you to earn Cs or higher to count. So contrary to what people may say, Ds do not really get degrees.
If you’ve fallen off the 15 credits per semester average, you can make either make it up during the summer or by taking extra credits in a fall/ spring semester. If the idea of taking 18 credits is a turn off, plan on taking summer courses! You can receive scholarships through both the financial aid office and the Think Summer office if you qualify.