University of Texas Tries to Increase its Graduation Rate

Apparently Texas now plans to get serious about completion. According to an article by Caralee Adams at Education Week:

The University of Texas at Austin has come up with recommendations — 60 of them — to help get students to the finish line sooner. A Task Force on Undergraduate Graduation Rates released a report Wednesday that outlined strategies it hopes will encourage 70 percent of undergrads to earn their degrees within four years by 2016.

Now, about half of all undergraduates at the campus earn a degree within four years; 75 percent finish in five years and more than 80 percent graduate within six years.

The school’s special strategies for improving completion include “requiring orientation for all incoming first-year students” and “requiring all first-year students live in university housing in their first year.”

Some of these policies seem vaguely to make sense but, in fact, the primary reason students leave college without graduating is financial. People don’t drop out of college because of failure to become properly oriented to campus; they drop out of college because it’s too expensive.

Texas does little to address the high cost of college (the school now costs a total $23,596 a year to attend) beyond vaguely promising to “explore ways to lower the net price of attendance to low income and at-risk students.”

In fact, one strategy to try and improve completion is “increasing tuition for students who have not graduated.”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer