15 to Finish Toolkit

This toolkit is intended to help campuses, high schools, and other organizations share the 15 to Finish message with students, parents, and other stakeholders. The kit includes strategies, ideas and best practices, and promotional materials that may be adapted for local use. Please refer to the “implementation guide” section for more information about using these materials and associated legal requirements.
Paul L. HillGreetings,

The Higher Education Policy Commission is excited to launch West Virginia’s 15 to Finish initiative. Together with our campuses, we are tackling this important subject because we know that taking 15 credit hours or more per semester is essential to completing a degree on time – within four years – but too few students are taking this full course load.

We need to let students know why taking 15 hours or more is important: Not only does taking a full course load increase the likelihood that they will graduate on time, but research has shown that it actually improves students’ academic outcomes.

That really is our primary goal with this campaign – to see more students succeed academically, earn their degrees, and begin their careers. That’s what our work, together, is all about.

In this kit, you will find the tools you need to share the 15 to Finish message with your students – and put them on the path to timely degree completion and success.

Paul L. Hill, Ph.D.
West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission

Problem definition

  • Too few students are taking 15 credit hours or more per semester.
  • Students are not aware that 15 hours represent a full course load, or that completing a degree on time is dependent on earning at least 15 hours per semester.
  • There is a misconception that lighter course loads are likely to lead to better academic outcomes.
  • Some students calculate inaccurately costs versus benefits, placing greater emphasis on working part-time in college over the benefits of finishing college on time, reducing overall tuition costs, and improving employment prospects.

Goals and objectives

  • Increase the percentage of WV college students taking at least 15 credit hours per semester, or 30 hours per academic year to 65 percent by 2018.
  • Change perceptions of full-time enrollment to 15 hours, as opposed to the financial aid policy that defines full time as 12 hours.
  • Help college advisors encourage more students to take at least 15 hours.
  • Build awareness regarding the academic benefits of taking 15 credit hours per semester.
  • Build awareness of the greater long-term benefits of finishing college on time.
  • Increase the student completion rate in West Virginia, consistent with the Higher Education Policy Commission’s five-year plan, Leading the Way: Access. Success. Impact.

Associated Research

Campaign timeline

  • September – December, 2014: Campaign planning and preparation
  • January 2015: Statewide campaign launch
  • March 2015 – May 2015: Campaign focus period, targeting students enrolling in college in fall 2015
  • May 2015 – subsequent semesters: Ongoing messaging promoting on-time graduation and collaboration with college advisors

Terms of use

West Virginia higher education institutions, high schools, and other organizations partnering in the 15 to Finish effort are encouraged to utilize the resources provided in this toolkit as they are presented. Organizations seeking to make significant edits to content or graphics should first obtain approval from the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

Legal requirements and guidelines

15 to Finish is a registered trademark of the University of Hawaii System. As such, materials must contain the following note (minimum 8 pt font on printed materials):

15 to Finish is a registered trademark of the University of Hawaii System and is being used by West Virginia with permission through the Complete College America initiative.

Additionally, the West Virginia 15 to Finish effort is an initiative of the College Foundation of West Virginia. When possible, we encourage partners to utilize the following note on print and digital materials:

15 to Finish is an initiative of the College Foundation of West Virginia, led by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission.

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