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Most bachelor degree programs at UTSA require the successful completion of 120 hours to graduate. This means for students to graduate in 4 years, they must take either a combination of 15 hours in fall and spring or take 12 in fall, 12 in spring and a minimum 6 in the summer. Students who only take 12 hours in fall and spring will end up taking an extra year to earn their degree (and possibly longer if their degree plan requires more than 120 hours).

How does this translate financially? Well, if you think about it, your costs associated with college are much more than just tuition and books. There are potential housing costs, meals, transportation and other personal expenses. If you take an extra year to graduate, that means an extra year of expenses (and if you're borrowing loans, an additional year to take on debt).

Loan indebtedness for 4 years versus 5 or 6
Impacts of drops and withdrawals
Increased cost to tuition and fees
Lost opportunity and earning potential

Loan indebtedness for 4 years versus 5 or 6

Taking longer than 4 years to graduate with your Bachelor's degree can drastically increase your student loan debt and the amount you'll have to pay monthly to repay your loans once you graduate.

Loan Debt

These figures represent the average Stafford and Perkins loan debt incurred by undergraduate students at UTSA who graduated in 2012-2013. Those who graduated in 4 years began as freshmen in 2009-2010. Those in 5 years in 2008-2009 and those in 6 years in 2007-2008. As you can see, those who graduate in 4 years accrue less debt and will be able to begin earning money more quickly than those who graduate later. It's important to weigh this opportunity cost if you're considering delaying graduation. Ask yourself the following questions before you consider delaying graduation beyond 4 years:

  • What is my current loan debt balance and how will that increase if I delay graduation?
    • Use to find out your federal loan debt balance
    • Use a loan repayment estimator to figure out what you monthly payments will be and then reconfigure with additional loan debt incurred due to delayed graduation
  • How much is the average salary range for my field?
    • Figure out how much you will lose in wages by delaying entering into the workplace due to not graduating

Lost Opportunity and Earning Potential
Here's a hypothetical example of lost opportunity and earning potential. For this example, these three hypothetical undergraduates all began college at the same time, did not need any developmental courses and had the same number of credit hours for their degrees.

Opportunity Loss
Degree programs were each 120 credit hours
(Graduated in 4 years)
(Graduated in 5 years)
(Graduated in 6 years)
Time to degree (graduation)
30 credits earned per year (8 semsters)
24 credits earned per year (10 semesters)
20 credits earned per year (13 semesters)
Tuition, fees and books*
Hours X Semesters (Fall and Spring)
15 hrs x 8
12 hrs x 10
9 hrs x 12 and
12 hrs x 1
Hours X Semesters (Summer)
Summer job wages**
(no benefits)
Part-time job year round (no benefits)***
5th year career salary earned with benefits****
6th year career salary earned with benefits
7th year career salary earned with benefits
Total salary and value of benefits earned over 7 years since entering college

* Texas resident UTSA tuition and fees are based on the 2013-2014 academic year. Keep in mind tuition may increase each year you are in school. Books are estimated at $1000 per academic year or $500 per semester.
**The summer job is estimated at 35 hours/week at $7/ hour x 10 weeks x 3 or 4 summer worked with no benefits.
*** The part-time job is based on 1,040 annual work hours and estimated at $9/hour with no benefits.
****The estimated entry-level career annual salary of $32,000 plus an estimated 31% for benefits.

In this example, Chris and Maria had lost opportunity in comparision with Ronda because they decided to delay graduation. Need help understanding this better? Email us at and we're happy to help you understand.

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Impacts of drops and withdrawals

Any time courses are not completed, this can have a direct financial consequence. Not only does it amount to lost tuition, but it can also affect your eligibility to receive financial aid in the future.

Financial Aid Impacts

Satisfactory Academic Progress

Dropping a class or withdrawing from all courses, can affect your eligibility to financial aid if it causes you to not meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) standards. Each year after the close of spring semester, Financial Aid and Enrollment Services checks if students are making SAP. Specifically they look at students' cummulative GPAs, completion rates and maximum timeframe. Read more about the criteria you must meet to be making SAP for financial aid purposes. If you're wondering why not meeting SAP is important, consider this: In 2009, 66% of students who defaulted on their Stafford loans at UTSA had not met SAP at least once during their time at UTSA.

Defaulting on your student loans is serious business. For more information, visit our Loan Repayment page.

Return of Title IV Funds

Students using financial aid, who do not finish all courses in a semester or who stop attending, are subject to having their paid financial aid returned in part to the government. This is known as Return of Title IV funds. In addition, students who cease a minimum of half-time enrollment will enter their grace period for their loans and can incur a balance to the University due to funds pulling back.

Maximum direct subsidized Stafford loan eligibilty

Beginning July 1, 2013, Congress limited students' timeframe and eligibility to receive direct subsidized Stafford loans. For a 4-year institution like UTSA, students are limited to 6 years of subsidized loan eligiblity. In addition, students may only receive subsidized loan if they are under 150% of attempted hours for their program of study. Subsidized loans' interest while you are in school is paid by the government. Losing eligiblity will mean that interest accrued on your loan while in school would now be your financial responsibility. Additional interest accrues means the more you will have to pay back and less money in your paychecks once you begin repayment. Questions about repayment? Visit our Loan Repayment page for valuable information.

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Increased cost to tuition and fees

Students who drop or withdraw can have direct financial repercussions to their tuition and fees. On a student's third attempt of taking the same course, an additional charge of $250 per credit hour will be assessed on top of regular tuition and fees. This is known as the Three-Attempt Rule. Likewise, students who attempt 30 (or 45 based on entry term) hours attempted in excess of the hours required to complete their degree will also be charged an additional $250 per credit hour on top of regular tuition and fees. This is known as the Undergraduate Credit Limitation. As you can see, students who don't progress or who attempt courses multiple times can have serious financial penalties on their tuition and fees.

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