As part of ongoing efforts to reduce costs for students and help them finish college in a timely manner, Missouri Western reduced the number of credit hours required to earn a bachelor’s degree from 124 to 120, effective this fall semester.

Credit requirements within majors or minors will not change, but the number of elective hours needed will be reduced.

The change comes as Missouri Western launches a new program called Finish in 4 to help more students finish their degrees in four years. Finish in 4 will give qualified first-time freshmen who meet program requirements a clear four-year plan to graduation.

The program provides a “roadmap to success” for incoming freshmen, said Dr. Paul Orscheln, associate vice president for enrollment management and retention. It gives them a plan to finish in four years and the tools they need to persist to graduation.

Finish in 4 also helps students stay on track academically. The Early Intervention System will monitor academic progress to provide timely feedback and support for struggling students. Participating students will also receive priority registration for the next semester’s classes. Additionally, if students follow the plan and meet all the requirements of Finish in 4 but don’t finish in four years because of course offering conflicts, the additional classes they need to take to graduate will be free.

Finish in 4 and the reduced credit hour requirement are both part of Missouri Western’s efforts to bridge the affordability gap in higher education, Dr. Orscheln said.

“Missouri Western remains a very affordable option compared to our peers, but we know that for more and more students around the country, higher education seems increasingly out of reach,” Dr. Orscheln said. “We want to do everything we can to make sure that a high-quality education is attainable for the students we serve.”

Other recent measures to help make Missouri Western more affordable include using the superscore method to evaluate ACT and SAT scores for admissions and scholarships, making some incoming freshmen eligible for an additional $1,000 to $1,600 in scholarships per year.

Missouri Western also recently extended the area for the Griffon Rate scholarship, allowing students from 13 states to pay in-state tuition if they meet certain academic requirements. The University is also discussing ways to address the affordability of textbooks.