General Education

Satisfaction Guaranteed? Colleges with Four Year Degree Guarantees

Satisfaction Guaranteed? Colleges with Four Year Degree Guarantees
Image from
Noodle Staff profile
Noodle Staff February 8, 2019

Noodle Programs


Noodle Courses

Article continues here

A recent article in the New York Times highlights a new four year degree guarantee at Randolph-Macon College. But RMC is just one of a dozen or so schools offering it. So how does it work and what schools provide it?

How does it work?

The four year degree guarantee is an agreement between the school and student that basically guarantees that the student will graduate in four years. The school guarantees that, provided the student maintains academic standards and meets regularly with their advisor, the student will graduate on time. If the student follows the guidelines but takes longer than four years to graduate (e.g. because a course isn't available), the school will cover the student's tuition for the extra semester or year.

So how do they afford it?

  1. Most schools stipulate that the guarantee is only effective if the extra time is because of a problem they caused. If Amy needs an extra semester because one of her required classes was unavailable, the school foots the bill. If she needs extra time because she took a semester off, she's responsible for the tuition.

  2. Statistically, most students at private, four-year colleges finish their degrees on time with or without a guarantee. By creating rigid credit requirements each year and providing the students with incentives to finish on time, the school makes it even more likely that the student finishes in four years. The required advisor visits help the schools catch students not on track and find ways to make sure that they catch up appropriately.

  3. Stringent requirements.

According to website at the University of Colorado:

The major must be declared no later than the start of the second semester of study (see note below for exceptions), and students must remain in that major until graduation.

Students must register each semester within one week of the assigned registration time.

Students should avoid taking courses that are in conflict with the written advice of their assigned primary advisor.

Courses in conflict with major or college core curriculum requirements should be avoided.

The college should be notified in writing of the student's intent to graduate no later than the beginning of the seventh semester of study, and a graduation packet should be filed no later than the deadline for the appropriate graduation date.

Documentation should be kept proving that these requirements were satisfied (e.g., records of advising meetings attended, advising records and instructions, etc.).

The University of the Pacific's website indicates that students must:

Declare and be admitted to a major by the beginning of the sophomore year by filing a Change of Program form. You may change majors, if at the time you make a change, you can still meet the requirements of the new major and graduate within four calendar years.

Register for courses within two days of the assigned early registration appointment. Enroll in available courses needed for the program of study; accept any available section that can be accommodated in your course schedule.

Make timely annual application for all necessary financial assistance, to avoid registration problems.

Monitor your own progress toward degree using the electronic degree check audit system (CAPP.html)) and ROAR.html) (Roam On Line Articulation Reports) regarding transfer work to help you stay on track.

If the student meets all the conditions of the four year plan but is unable to graduate due to unavailability of a course, the university will offer one of the following:

  1. Enable the student to graduate in four years by substituting a different course or an independent study assignment, as determined by the department and the college offering the student's major.

  2. Allow the unavailability of the course to delay the student from graduating in four years, in which case the University will waive Pacific tuition and mandatory fees in order for the student to graduate within the next academic year.

Who offers it?

Bethel College North Knewton, KS

California State Polytechnic University Pomona, CA

California State University -- Fresno Fresno, CA

California State University -- Fullerton Fullerton, CA

College of St. Scholastica Duluth, MN

Doane College Crete, NE

Green Mountain College Poultney, VT

Juniata College Huntington, PA

Mercer University Atlanta, GA

Randolph-Macon College Ashland, VA

Regis College Weston, MA

Sierra Nevada College Incline Village, NV

University of Colorado -- Boulder, Boulder, CO

University of Nebraska Lincoln, NE

University of the Pacific Stockton, CA

Virginia Wesleyan College Norfolk, VA

Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, MI

William Jewell College Liberty, MO

Would you sign a four year degree guarantee? Do the benefits outweigh the restrictions?

Image Source


Noodle Courses


Noodle Programs