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To increase four-year graduation rates, Theobald pledges $8 million in new scholarships

Starting with the Class of 2018, students can enter agreement with university where graduation in four years is guaranteed.

President Theobald pledged $8 million in new scholarships that will pay qualifying low-and-middle-income students to reduce their off-campus working hours as part of a larger four-year graduation plan released Monday, Feb. 3.

The “Fly in 4” program will offer incoming freshman and transfer students the ability to create four-year graduation plans with their academic advisors. Included in the plan is a four-year guarantee, where if students following the tracks set-up with advisors are unable to graduate in four years due to classes not being available at the necessary times, the university will cover tuition costs in their fifth year.

Additionally, 500 students in each class – as chosen by the Financial Aid Office as those who are likely to have to work extra hours to pay for school – will receive $4,000 per year as part of an agreement with the university to cut their working hours to close to 10 hours a week.

The current four-year graduation rate is 43 percent.

“The primary determinate of student debt is how long it takes people to get their degree,” Theobald said. “In talking with students around campus, of why they are not on a four-year path, the issue that keeps coming up is ‘Well I have to work.’”

The “Fly in 4” program will go into effect with the Class of 2018 and the university will add 500 recipients to the scholarship every year until the total number reaches 2,000. Current students will not be eligible for the scholarship or four-year guarantee.

Students who form agreements with the university will have to meet with an academic advisor at least once each semester, register for classes during early registration and move up in class standing every year.

The “Fly for 4” scholarship will also apply to five-year bachelor degree programs.  Internships, whether paid or unpaid, will not be included in a student’s working hours for the purposes of the scholarship. The scholarship applies to Fall and Spring semesters and will not cover summer classes.

John Moritz can be reached at john.moritz@temple.edu or on Twitter @JCMoritzTU.

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