Fast FOURward scholarships promote four-year degree completion to save students money and encourage success

It’s important for students to know that finishing a bachelor’s degree on time saves serious money.

University of Michigan-Dearborn students can save nearly $9,000 in tuition and fees when they graduate in four years instead of five. Four-year degree completion also puts them on a faster track toward pursuing their career dreams and earning a salary.

This is why UM-Dearborn’s Provost’s Office in 2016 inaugurated the Fast FOURward program, which encourages students to take 15 credit hours per semester and work less than 15 hours a week in order to graduate in four years. And starting in March, a FastFOURward scholarship initiative will promote the program further.

UM-Dearborn will offer $500-$600 scholarships to students who have taken at least 24 credit hours this academic year, 2016-17, and are enrolled in a minimum of six credit hours throughout the summer 2017 semesters.

“Those students who can least afford college end up paying more when they take longer than four years to graduate,” said Provost Catherine Davy. “The goal of FastFOURward is to help students successfully reach the finish line sooner.”

FastFOURward was developed in response to a national trend.

“It has been increasingly the case in recent years where students are taking longer to graduate for a variety of reasons, including having to work and having a family. They are taking five or six years, and sometimes more,” said Rachelle Lenard, project coordinator with the Office of the Provost.

While it’s understood that job or family commitments can’t be ignored, it’s smart for students to weigh the positives of four-year degree completion.

“The benefits are so great. You can earn so much more money and pay less in tuition if you graduate sooner,” Lenard said.

Further, studies also show that those who stretch degree-seeking beyond four years may not complete their educational goals. “Statistics show the likelihood of graduation decreases,” Lenard said.

Those who commit to more than 12 credit hours per fall or winter term already get a tuition break of $97 per credit hour.

Students who apply to the FastFOURward scholarship initiative must have at least a 2.0 GPA and have taken 24 credit hours or more in the 2016-17 academic year.

Kiran Gafa, a student in the College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters, learned about FastFOURward through an acquaintance in Greek Life.

“When I heard graduate in four years, it seemed like a tough course load to handle, especially with science classes. But, when I found that if you spread it out between Fall, Winter, and Summer, it seemed way more manageable,” she said. “The money that you could save seems like it’s worth a little more work during the semester. I would definitely consider pursuing the scholarship because it would be awesome to get some financial help when taking summer classes.”

For more about the program and scholarship initiative, go to the Fast FOURward website.

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