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New Pilot Program Could Graduate College Students in Four Years

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Texas A&M could soon become a model for other public Universities in Texas. A&M will get first crack at a proposed program that would let students attend summer classes at a fraction of the tuition rates in an effort to get them out of college sooner.

Only 72 percent of college graduates in Texas complete their degree in four years. And a new program with incentives may just be what universities need to increase their numbers, so says Texas A&M Vice President and provost Bill Perry.

"When students move through the university faster, it enables us the opportunity to serve more students," says Perry.

As the legislative session is underway, one topic of discussion is education. Representative Fred Brown is trying to pass a bill to launch a new pilot program at Texas A&M where students who attend summer classes can get in more hours and at a reduced price, with hopes students graduate in four years.

"A big part of that problem is students are graduating in six years to get a four year degree. They're thinking a full load is 12 hours, we'd like to see students achieve 30 hours in a year if they can, they can graduate in four years," says Representative Brown.

Brown also says by the year 2020, half a million Texas students are expected to continue their education. With this new program, they're hoping to see 30 to 35 percent more students going back to school.

"We look at our summer school programs across the state and we lost two-thirds of our students come summertime. So we're hoping through the pilot program we'll see an increase in students," says Representative Brown.

The program will consist of more junior and senior level classes, in addition to the ones already offered. Texas A&M would be the only university in the state to offer the program and if it turns out to be a success, it will be adopted at other universities statewide.

If the bill is passed, the new pilot program will start in the summer of 2006.