A new initiative to save college students time and money

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COLUMBIA - Missouri launched its "15 to Finish" initiative Wednesday to help college students save money and graduate on time. The initiative will encourage college students to take at least 15 credit hours each semester. 

Legislator signed the initiative in June. On Wednesday officials from more than 100 colleges and universities from across Missouri met to discuss the initiative. 

The Missouri Department of Education said the initiative is needed because fewer than one third of college students in Missouri take 15 credit hours. The department said that makes it almost impossible for students to graduate on time. 

Pete Ozias, director of undergraduate advising at the Missouri School of Journalism, said over all he believes the the initiative is a good idea. 

"Many academic units strive to get students to balance realistic semester loads. 15 credits seems to be a happy spot for most students," Ozias said. 

He said the Missouri School of Journalism was actually ahead of the legislation. 

"We have made steps recently to adjust our curriculum to be in that place prior to the legislation," Ozias said. 

Ozias said the incentive may help seniors.

"There is a financial incentive senior year when students are approaching that graduation point, and they are graduating on time."

But he believes the initiative may not work best for everyone. 

"The students that could be affectively negatively by it would be maybe students that change their majors along the way. I'm not sure how that fits into the '15 to Finish plan'," Ozias said, "Non-traditional students that work or have families can't take 15 credits a semester."

One University of Missouri student, Sarah Dumas, agreed. 

"Fifteen credit hours is definitely do-able for the majority of students, but sometimes there are special circumstances that stop people from being able to do that," Dumas said. "Whether it's work or just mental health stress because some classes require more time and attention than you can do if you have 15 credit hours."

Ozias said there are pros and cons with any legislation; it depends how it's implemented. 

"My hope is that the people that represent the colleges of Missouri are going to be at the forefront advising how that should roll out," Ozias said.