A couple months ago, we covered the costs of taking an extra year in college. Yes, the 5th year stretch does make things easier and gives you more time to focus on your drinking, but in most cases, it could cost you well into the six figure range in terms of tuition paid, lost earning potential, and reduced retirement savings.
But the trend of over 40 percent of students in the United States taking 4+ years to get a degree these days can’t be ignored and some colleges are responding in a surprising way: by offering a “Buy 4 Years, Get 1 Free” plan.
Starting this fall, the private University of Evansville — where the four-year completion rate was about 58 percent — officially rolls out a guarantee: Finish in four years or the fifth year is tuition free. Several other schools have initiated a similar push to get students in and out.
Rather than pay out an extra year’s tuition, the goal is to change student behavior from the start so they graduate on time, said Ben Miller, senior director of post-secondary education at the Center for American Progress. “The best-case scenario for this school is that no one ever needs to use the guarantee.”
This plan is a fantastic idea and will work exactly how they expect it to.
If I were an Evansville student, knowing there was a guarantee of 9 more months of tuition-free drinking and hijinks if I slacked off and took my time, I would never consider it my humble duty to milk every last minute of such a promotion by creating a bullshit Psych minor and partying till I couldn’t feel my face. That’s just not something that would happen. If I looked at the math, the lost earnings potential is definitely enough of a deterrent to offset the massive cost savings of not paying tuition when weighed against a desire to live the college lifestyle for one more year. Most definitely.
I never took a victory lap in college, and I definitely didn’t blow the one term left on my undergrad scholarships by registering for classes like “Native American Flute,” “The Art of Relaxation,” and “Feminist Ideas in the Films of Walt Disney.” I wanted to expand my educational experience with interdisciplinary course exposure. I didn’t even think about getting one more football season, since I would otherwise graduate on a schedule with our rivalry game played away.
Facing a cold, cruel world of taxes and paying your own rent, why would I ever want to spend another year being plastered for 18 hours a day, pulling off stupid pranks with my brothers instead of studying, and hitting functions every week with an endless supply of all the hot, available girls I could ever ask for while being one of the oldest and most powerful members of my fraternity? No thank you!
You hit that “alumni” status and immediately age twenty years, putting on thirty pounds and a pube beard. I’ve seen the transformation happen to too many good men. I can’t wait for it to happen to me! Sign me up!
I applaud the University of Evansville and others like it for recognizing that if they gave students an excuse to stay in college for free for an extra year, that would motivate us to study harder and work faster to spend the least amount of time in their hallowed halls possible while paying the most amount of tuition to do so.
I sincerely hope many other colleges across our nation follow their fine example..
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