Portland State University President Wim Wiewel announced that PSU will become the first public university in Oregon to offer a Four-Year Degree Guarantee to help students graduate on time and save money on tuition.
Here’s how it works: Starting in fall 2014, full-time entering freshmen can sign an agreement to follow a four-year degree path. If they stay on track, PSU guarantees they will have the courses and advising they need to graduate on time — or they will not pay tuition for any remaining required courses. Students pay for only four years.
“Student debt is a big problem; it hurts students by making it harder for them to make a living after they graduate,” Wiewel said. “This guarantee will ensure students finish in four years and only pay for four years.”
Gov. John Kitzhaber, who is restructuring higher education oversight as part of efforts to bolster the number of Oregonians with degrees, said “this is a promising model for helping to keep higher education accessible, and for helping the state reach our 40-40-20 goals.” The state’s goal is for 40 percent of its adult residents to have college degrees, 40 percent to have two-year degrees or certificates and 20 percent to have high school diplomas.
College costs at public universities have increased by nearly 40 percent over the past decade as the states have cut funding for higher education. Adding to the expense, most students take more than four years to earn a four-year degree because they cannot get the courses they need to graduate on time. And many students take out more loans to pay for the extra time. Across Oregon, students who take out loans graduate with an average debt of $24,000.
“The Four-Year Degree Guarantee is one of many ways we are rethinking teaching and learning at PSU,” said Sona Andrews, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs. “It is an important step toward improving the educational experience for every student and helping them finish in four years.”