Utica University’s four-year graduation guarantee


Alexandria Leland

“Runner with a Heart” statue located outside of White hall, created by Artist and Professor of Psychology Steven Specht

Hollie David, Managing Editor

Last year Utica University implemented the four-year graduation guarantee for undergraduate students on campus. 

The goal of the graduation guarantee is to help all incoming full-time first-year students, starting from Fall 2021, to complete their bachelor’s degree in four years and to reduce the overall cost students are spending on tuition. 

Director of Student Success Bethany Samuels, along with Senior Vice President for Student Life and Enrollment Management Dr. Jeffery Gates, both of Utica University, explained in an email why the guarantee was created.

“Utica University is committed to College and University Affordability,” Samuels and Gates said. “This overarching commitment is what inspired the guarantee. We started with offering all new students a $10,000 Affordability Grant in 2015, then reduced the cost of tuition and fees by 42% and housing by 13% the following year.”

They went on to explain how these past implementations have affected the university. 

“These efforts have allowed more high school and transfer students the ability to enjoy a highly personalized private higher education experience,” Samuels and Gates said. “Further, we’ve been able to reduce the debt of our graduates by more than 33% since our tuition reset.”

Students are first informed of the four-year graduation guarantee during the admissions process and are required to then sign an agreement that outlines the details which go along with the guarantee, explained Samuels. 

Each student is assigned a success coach by the Center for Student Success at the beginning of their college journey, which is designed to help a student do all they need to to remain on track.

Utica’s website outlines the various steps that students need to take to ensure they graduate on time through the four-year guarantee, which students will work with the center for student success and their specific success coach to complete. 

These steps include keeping appointments made with your success coach, passing all classes with program-specific grades and paying all required tuition and fees.

By not following these steps, the guarantee can then be voided through the university. 

Along with the student promises, according to the Utica website, the university will work with students to keep them on track and ensure they graduate on time. They also explain that any student who will not graduate on time will have the university work with them to ensure degree completion.

“If you have met your responsibilities and are not able to graduate in four years, provide you the opportunity to complete any courses required for your degree, free of any tuition and fee charges,” the university’s website said. 

The guarantee has created a deeper sense of accountability for students and advisors, Samuels explained. It has helped to emphasize the overall importance of taking the correct courses and completing students’ degrees on time.

“[We want] to see as many students as possible cross the stage in four years and shake the President’s hand,” Samuels and Gates said.