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Colleges incentivize graduation progress

Cleveland State University offers tuition rebates and bookstore credits
University Business, March 2016

​Encouraging students to take a full-time course load to target on-time graduation has become a popular focus area in higher ed.

Cleveland State University takes the concept a step further with its graduation incentive plan—in which students earn tuition rebates and bookstore credits for staying on track.

The incentives are available to all CSU undergrads who enrolled between Fall 2013 and Fall 2015. Anyone completing 30 hours in a single academic year (fall, spring, summer) receives a 2 percent tuition rebate to their account and a $200 book credit in the campus store.

The reward can be repeated up to four consecutive times, with fourth-year credits applied to future CSU grad school tuition.

The incentive-based route made sense for CSU’s student population, says William Dube, director of communications.

“Our students work more hours and have more family obligations than the average student, so these initiatives were designed specifically to make the educational experience more flexible and user friendly. Our students come first.”

The program falls under the general operating fund budget, and the campus store, run by Follett, receives $200 per eligible student from the school.

President Ronald M. Berkman says, “Every additional year that a student spends at a public four-year college costs approximately $68,000, nearly $23,000 in cost of attendance and $45,000 in lost wages.”

The incentive plan, he adds, is part of a suite of initiatives designed to reduce graduation times, improve retention and lower the overall cost of college.

Those efforts include: allowing students to register for fall, spring and summer terms at the same time; using an online waiting list for full courses; and capping most baccalaureate degrees at 120 credit hours.

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