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EVANSVILLE, Ind. – College students and their parents know time means money. Student loan debt has blown past the $1 trillion mark.

“At many schools, because of various reasons, students take five years, six years, sometimes longer to graduate,” said University of Evansville President Tom Kazee. “That adds a tremendous amount of financial obligation for a family. If you think about just one additional year, it’s a 25% increase in total cost.”

That’s why many families are finding the University of Evansville appealing. The school is offering a four-year graduation guarantee.

“We’re not just saying this might happen to you if you come to University of Evansville,” said Kazee. “We guarantee this will happen to you.”

Kazee said talks with parents sealed the deal.

“The more conversations we had with parents, especially about affordability, what it’s going to cost, it became clear to us that we needed to give them some assurance that they would not have costs beyond that fourth year. So that’s when we began formalizing this notion of the UE guarantee.”

“We have a set of guidelines that go along with this and the guidelines are very simple but they’re very clear,” said Kazee. “They say that you do need to meet with your adviser regularly and you do need to follow the program of study that is identified by your major. In other words, there is some obligation on the student to follow the prescribed process for graduating in four years. We’ll make sure we provide those advising resources and counseling resources.”

UE also guarantees at least one internship, the opportunity to study abroad and at least one financial aid award.  Unlike most institutions, financial aid travels with UE students when they study abroad at Harlaxton, UE’s living learning center in Grantham, England.

There are about 2200 undergraduates at UE.

The National Center for Education Statistics reports only 52.8% of students who started at a private nonprofit college, like UE, graduated in four years. UE’s four year graduation rate is 58%.

Only 33.5% finish in four years at public colleges.

UE’s guarantee started last fall.

“We know we can provide the resources that will make it possible for you to graduate in four years,” said Kazee. “If you do what’s required of you as a student, you will. And if for some reason you can’t and it’s not your fault, we will provide that fifth year of school tuition for free. And we can say that because we know that based on past experience, if our students do the things that we advise them to do, they’ll graduate in four years.”