College students need to take 12 credit hours per semester to be considered full-time for financial aid and other purposes -- but state education officials don’t think that’s enough.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission’s “15 to Finish” campaign launches this fall, in an attempt to get more college students to obtain their degrees within four years.
The commission says that taking 15 credit hours per semester can help students do better and reduce student loan debt. They point to a similar initiative implemented at the University of Hawaii. A statewide campaign there -- including advertising, on-campus messaging and community outreach -- increased the number of students taking 15 hours per semester by more than 17 percent in one year. Students who took more hours also performed better academically.
At least 15 states want students to take 15 hours per semester, following Hawaii’s model, according to the HEPC.
Because 12 hours is the full-time requirement for state and federal policies regarding scholarships and other aid, students don’t realize that it can cause them to waste their time and money by elongating their college experience, according to an HEPC report.