#15 to Finish on a blue background

15 to Finish

The 15 to Finish campaign encourages full-time students to take 15 credits per semester, or 30 credits per year so they can complete their degree on time to transfer or get into the workforce.

Full-time does not equal On-time

Too many students take 12 credits per semester which is considered full-time by financial aid standards. However, full-time does not mean you will finish your two-year degree on-time. There are numerous ways to be full-time and finish on-time by taking your credits each year in the following possibilities:

Fall Spring Summer On-Time
15 + 15 + 0 = 30
12 + 12 + 6 = 30
15 + 12 + 3 = 30
12 + 15 + 3 = 30

Complete College America website, 2021

Taking 15 credits per semester saves you money as another year in college costs you thousands of dollars.

Time is money. This impacts students’ cost due to the rising tuition rate and missed opportunity costs associated with the loss of wages and retirement savings.

$15,933 in cost of attendance*
+$35,000 in lost wages
$50,933 total for each student seeking associate degree

*Includes tuition and fees, book and supplies, room and board, transportation and other expenses.
(Jones, The Game Changer, 2015)

Delaying graduation can cost over hundred thousands of dollars in a lifetime

According to a study by Complete College America, students delaying graduation miss out on $150,000 for each additional year in college over their lifetime. This is due to tuition cost, and the lost opportunity cost of wages, and retirement savings.

Cost of Additional Year
per student
(tuition, lost wages, and retirement and other costs)

Complete College America, New Rules: Policies to Meet Attainment Goals and Close Equity Gaps, 2017

Students who take 15 credits per semester tend to get a higher GPA

Numerous studies focusing on community college students who start with 15 credits in their first semester show that they have a higher grade point average (GPA), stay in college and complete their degree.









Complete College America website, 2021

Students who take 15 credits are more likely to graduate

Numerous studies show that community college students who start college with 15 credits per semester are more likely to graduate than those who take lesser credits no matter their academic preparedness, socio-economic status, race or ethnicity.

Effect of Course Load on the Probability of
Attaining a Degree

a bar graph showing the probability of success in percentages of obtaining a degree by taking 15 credits a semester compared to taking 12 credits a semester

In this graph it shows that students who took 15 credits in their first semester increased the probability of receiving their degree by 18% versus those who took 12 credits. (A study done at 13 community colleges in Tennessee by the Community College Research Center, 2016)

Taking the right 15 credits

Taking 15 credits in a semester is about taking the right 15 credits. Visit your advisor who can help you with an academic plan to complete at least 30 credits per year that will count toward your degree program. This way you do not spend extra money on courses you do not need and can finish in the least amount of time.