San Antonio – St. Mary’s University graduates nearly 60 percent of its students in six years, making it among the highest in Texas, and its four-year graduation rate is in the State’s top 20 percent. In an effort to encourage more students to graduate in four years, St. Mary’s will begin extending a Four-year Pledge to incoming freshmen starting in the fall 2011 semester. The agreement is a partnership between students and St. Mary’s to follow a plan that when fulfilled will lead to more students graduating in four years. If the student fulfills the student’s responsibilities and is unable to complete the requirements for the degree within four years, the University will provide a grant covering tuition and fees (after federal and state financial aid is applied) for the additional courses required to complete the degree during the next two consecutive semesters. St. Mary’s Four-year Pledge is the first of its kind in San Antonio, and among only a few in Texas.

St. Mary’s recognizes that the longer a student is enrolled, the more cost that is incurred and long-term earning potential or pursuing a graduate degree is also delayed. St. Mary’s University is committed to helping reduce the cost of higher education, thus lessening the total financial investment required of our students and their families.

“Making a college degree affordable and accessible is only half the battle,” said St. Mary’s President Charles L. Cotrell. “Colleges and universities also have a responsibility to do their part to empower and motivate students to graduate in a timely manner so that they can move forward with their future careers and aspirations.”

When students sign the Pledge, they agree to follow the degree plan for their major. Some majors are excluded due to the number of credit hours required for the degree; however, most degrees that St. Mary’s offers are possible to obtain within four years. The Pledge requires the student to fulfill their responsibilities to stay on track.

As part of the Four-year Pledge, St. Mary’s University pledges to provide students access to up-to-date information so they can monitor their progress. As part of the Pledge, the University will assure that the classes needed to complete the degree requirements are available to students enrolled in an eligible major. If the University is unable to provide the necessary course(s) the University will offer reasonable substitutions to keep the eligible student on track for graduation in four years.

“The Pledge is student-centered and strengthens our commitment to academic excellence and education of the whole person,” said André Hampton, J.D., Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. “As a supportive academic community, we will continue to work with our students as they pursue their goals. It’s who we are as a Catholic and Marianist institution.”

Students are not required to graduate in four years, nor do they have to sign the Pledge. The University continues to be committed to allowing students the flexibility to explore and discover their educational aspirations. Some students may choose to take a wider range of courses that are not directly related to their field of study, or they might want or need to progress at a different pace. A student may extend their studies beyond four years to take advantage of research and internship opportunities, certificate and/or minor programs, or to pursue specialized plans of study tailored to unique career goals.

The St. Mary’s Core, which went into effect this semester, also more efficiently accommodates students’ degree plans so that students can graduate in a timely fashion.

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