15 to Finish Missouri

15 to Finish: Promoting on-time college completion


The 15 to Finish program encourages full-time college students to take at least 15 credit hours a semester to put them on track to receive an associate degree in two years or a bachelor’s degree in four years.


Less than one-third of students in Missouri earn an average of 15 credit hours per semester, making it impossible in many cases for students to graduate on time. As a result, students often need an extra year or more to graduate.


Additional time in the classroom comes at a steep price. An extra year in college can cost students more than $50,000 in tuition, fees, room and board, and lost wages they would have earned if they had graduated and joined the workforce.


Many students have become accustomed to taking 12 hours of college credit, because that is the minimum number of hours required to receive most types of financial aid. As a result, 12 hours is usually considered full-time attendance. Not all students can or will graduate on time for a variety of reasons, but many more can.


In most cases, full-time students need to take just one more three-hour course every semester to graduate on time. By completing 15 or more credit hours of each semester, students can graduate earlier, enter the workforce sooner and save thousands of dollars in education expenses.Graduating on time also can help reduce student loan debt by reducing students' need to borrow money for an additional year or more of college.


Legislation signed into law in June 2016 established the 15 to Finish Act, which calls for the Department of Higher Education to develop policies to promote the on-time completion of degree programs.


In addition to educating students about the advantages of completing 15 hours of college credit, higher education institutions can offer financial incentives to promote the on-time completion of a degree. Incentives could include:


  • “Banded tuition," which students to enroll in additional credit hours – beyond the number needed for full-time enrollment – at no extra cost. For example, students would pay the same price for 15 credit hours as they would for 12 credit hours.


  • Financial aid incentives such as scholarships or grants that help students pay for their final year of college if they are on track to graduate in four years.



15 to Finish Statewide Kickoff


Missouri launched its statewide 15 to Finish Program Wednesday, Oct. 12 at Missouri State University in Springfield.



News release