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Early graduation trend impacts Miami financially

<p>Elana Duffy entered Miami with a large number of credits and will be graduating a year early.</p>

Elana Duffy entered Miami with a large number of credits and will be graduating a year early.

Miami University has seen a gradual increase in students graduating earlier than the expected four years, which has impacted the university’s financial revenue. 

David Creamer, Miami’s vice president for finance and business services and treasurer, said the financial loss from the higher amount of early graduates this year totals at least $1.3 million.

From the most recent data available, the class of 2015 had 314 students graduate in three and a half years or less — eight percent of all students. 

According to the financial department’s calculations, 38 more students are set to graduate in three years this year, whereas 35 more students are enrolling in a fifth year. This means the loss of revenue from early graduates will not be made up by fifth year enrollment. 

The Finance and Business Services have predicted this trend based on their annual spring survey, which gathers more precise data about the number of graduation applications. 

“We will probably deepen that analysis this coming year,” Creamer said. “Just to make sure we are understanding some of the trends and are not too quick to just assume that the patterns will look like they have in prior years. That will help us to project things out better and be better able to respond to whatever the trend is.”

Creamer said increasing enrollment into the university is the main option to make up for the financial loss of early graduates. 

While there have always been early graduates at Miami, Creamer said the increasing trend has been slow and gradual.

“I think the trend [in early graduates] is something that has gradually occurred,” Creamer said.  “We just hadn’t paid as much attention to it until this year, but I think it’s probably been gradually increasing for a variety of reasons. Affordability, sometimes wanting to get on with a career or to enter a professional or graduate program, so I’m sure we are going to continue to see this trend.”

Many students graduate early if they come in with eligible Advanced Placement (AP) scores or college credit from a dual enrollment program. Due to Ohio’s AP policy, a score of three or higher on any AP test guarantees college credit for any public Ohio university. This increases the chances for incoming first years to come in with college credit already under their belt.

Laura Dudones, an English literature and creative writing double major, who entered Miami with the class of 2021, will be graduating in May, one year ahead of her class. Dudones entered Miami with over 50 credit hours from dual enrollment courses in high school, fulfilling most of the Miami Plan before ever stepping onto campus. 

Elana Duffy, a zoology and premedical studies major, will also be graduating after only three years, having entered Miami with about 40 AP credits from her last two years of high school.

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Both Duffy and Dudones mentioned the financial relief of saving one year’s worth of tuition. In Duffy’s case, the extra money will contribute to her future endeavors in graduate school. 

While there are financial benefits to early graduation, both early graduates said they will miss their friends next year. 

“I have a few friends who are also graduating early, but some other friends I won't get to graduate with, which is strange after going through so much with them,” Dudones said.  

Despite the financial drawbacks Miami is facing with the increasing trend of early graduates, Creamer said the Miami faculty and staff prioritize a student’s individual needs over anything else. 

“Our goal is to always try to meet the objectives the student has; then we deal with the fiscal consequences of that in other ways,” Creamer said. “Our main purpose is to determine what the student’s objectives are. Let’s accomplish those, and then we will work out the financial aspects of that as we need to.”