The university’s decision to implement a flat-rate tuition in 2001 was supposed to encourage a greater number of students to take enough classes to graduate in four years.
Under this tuition system, a full-time student taking 18 hours pays the same amount of money as a full-time student who is taking just 12.
Although the move to the flat rate was designed to benefit students, it has seen limited success up to this point. A 44.9 percent four-year graduation rate in the year 2000 jumped to just 54 percent by 2004.
Campus officials argue that since the flat-rate tuition system hasn’t been as helpful as hoped in enticing students to get through college faster, adding another incentives, like a four-year graduation guarantee that Mercer University has implemented, would likely be unsuccessful as well.
With its four-year graduation guarantee, Mercer pledges to pay for all additional classes, on-campus housing and meal plans for students who need more than four years to graduate. The students must meet certain requirements like enrolling full time, meeting regularly with advisors and maintaining good grades to qualify.
The university says that while helping TCU students graduate in four years is a priority, a student’s engagement with his or her school is more important than a high graduation rate.
But if the university is really concerned with helping students graduate in a period of four years, instituting a program like the four-year graduation guarantee would be an excellent step toward ensuring that students meet that goal. It would also force the school to improve the current advising system, one of the top three reasons students said their graduations were delayed.
Also, the current flat-rate tuition is unfair to students who work full-time and take 12 hours of classes who have to pay the same amount as non-working students taking 18 hours.
Guiding students through an engaging college experience in four years, by whatever method, should be a priority for the university as it moves forward.
Sports editor Michael Carroll for the editorial board.