This ‘Freshman 15’ Fattens Wallets, Not Students

Photo by Andresr / Shutterstock.com

No one looks forward to the traditional “Freshman 15” — the 15 pounds students are commonly said to gain in their first year of college. But there’s another manner of “Freshman 15” that you or college-bound loved ones might want to consider.

It entails students taking at least 15 credits per semester during their freshman year of college. This practice benefits both pocketbooks and grades, according to a recent analysis by EAB, a research firm that serves educational institutions.

The analysis was prompted by a growing public service campaign called “15 to Finish,” which started at the University of Hawaii. EAB sought to learn how taking 15 credits per semester has affected a broader group of students.

For its analysis, EAB studied academic-record data on nearly 1.3 million full-time freshmen at 137 institutions, including public and private colleges and universities. Of these freshmen, 56 percent took at least 15 credits per semester, on average, while 44 percent were enrolled in 12 to just under 15 credits per semester.

Note that 12 credits per semester is generally the minimum a college student must take to be considered full-time.

Academic benefits

EAB found that the students who took an average of 15 or more credits per semester during their freshman year:

  • Had higher grade point averages, or GPAs, at the end of their freshman year (3.04), compared with their full-time peers who took fewer credits (2.68). This trend persisted even among students who achieved only average GPAs in high school. It also persisted among students of lower socioeconomic status.
  • Had higher retention rates at the end of their freshman year (90 percent), compared with their full-time peers who took fewer credits (81 percent).
  • Were more likely to take at least 15 credits per semester for the remainder of their time in college (15.9 credits per semester, on average), compared with their full-time peers who took fewer credits as freshmen (13.5 credits per semester, on average).

Financial benefits

Most colleges that take up a “15 to Finish” initiative offer flat-rate tuition to students who take more than 12 credits, according to EAB. In other words, students at such schools who take 15 credits per semester, for example, are getting three credits for free every semester. That’s a 20 percent discount, folks.

To look for schools with “15 to Finish” initiatives, do an internet search for the phrase “15 to Finish” followed by a particular state or college.

Taking an average of at least 15 credits per semester has financial benefits regardless of the institution a student attends, however. It puts students on track to graduate within four years, thereby avoiding additional semesters in college.

This is simple math if you know that most four-year degrees require about 120 hours, yet it might also be one of the most overlooked ways to reduce college costs. As EAB notes:

“That extra time in college comes at a cost, both in tuition and in the opportunity cost of delayed entry to the workforce.

Take for example, J.P. Livingston, whom we recently told you about in “3 Universal Money Lessons From a 29-Year-Old Millionaire Retiree.” She attributes her financial success in part to pushing herself to graduate college in three years.

Not only did it save her on college expenses, but it enabled her to enter the workforce sooner and therefore start earning income sooner.

For students who take on loans, graduating sooner and starting to work sooner also means they can start paying down their debt sooner. As a result, they stand to incur less interest over the life of their loans.

For more ways to cut college costs, check out:

Have you found other ways to save on college? Tell us about them by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher
17 Unusual Things You Can Clean in a Dishwasher

Many everyday items do not require meticulous hand washing.

10 Products That Will Help You Save Money
10 Products That Will Help You Save Money

Sometimes, spending a little cash right now can save you a lot of money down the road.

7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts
7 Secret Perks of Individual Retirement Accounts

IRAs come with bells and whistles that many other savings and investment accounts lack — including some that you may not know exist.

11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire
11 Signs That You Chose the Wrong Place to Retire

Health and happiness in retirement rely on some key factors.

How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step
How to Buy a Refrigerator, Step by Step

Here’s how I got the perfect appliance at the perfect price.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
21 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

Dollar stores have great bargains on these familiar purchases. Yes, even pregnancy tests.

13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon
13 Brilliant Bulk-Buy Items on Amazon

Every household should have these products on hand. Buying them in bulk on Amazon saves you cash.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best
Homeowners Say These 2 Kitchen Appliance Brands Are Best

One brand takes five of the top honors, while another ranks highest in three categories.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price
9 Indestructible Products That Are Worth the Price

If you’re willing to pay a little more for these products, you may never have to shop for another again.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.