Four years. Guaranteed.

With a 3.98 grade point average, Dmitriy Cherchenko was one of the top performing students at Gresham’s Centennial High School, class of 2014. He knows how to work hard and he knows he’ll go on to graduate school, so he wants to get his undergraduate degree in a timely manner – no more than four years.

PSU is helping him do that with the Four-Year Degree Guarantee, launching this fall. 

It works like this: the University promises that full-time freshmen who sign an agreement will get the support and courses necessary to graduate in four years.  If they follow their agreed upon course plan and are still delayed, PSU will not charge them tuition for any remaining required courses. Students only pay for four years.

“We’re hoping this makes school more affordable,” said Dan Fortmiller, PSU’s interim vice president for enrollment management and student affairs. “It’s not for everybody. It can be a good fit for students who are willing to follow a prescribed plan, and if they have difficulty with it, they’ll get lots of advising on how to make it work. It’s just one of many pathways to degree completion.”

Cherchenko is one of roughly 100 students who qualified for this first year of the program. 

“It seemed like a good idea because it ensures that I’ll finish on time, and it saves money,” said Cherchenko. He plans to economize by living at home and commuting to school.

Saving students money is the main reason the guarantee was created. Tuition costs for public universities in the United States rose about 40 percent over the last decade, and student debt is a national concern. The guarantee is intended to keep students from incurring excessive debt by helping them graduate on time.

Cherchenko will be double majoring in philosophy and physics. He already has college credits from taking advanced placement classes in high school, but he will still take 50 credit hours in the coming academic year. 

The minimum course load for the guarantee program is 45 credits a year. Students may change majors and continue to participate in the four-year degree guarantee only if they can still meet graduation requirements for the new major within four years of entering PSU. The University will provide academic advising and the required courses each year to help them achieve that goal. 

Sixty percent of the students participating in the guarantee program are from Oregon. The remaining are coming here from all regions of the United States, as well as Egypt, Japan and China. 

Zack Wolflick, who is moving to Portland from a U.S. Air Force base in North Dakota, was the first four–year guarantee student admitted to the School of Business.

“I’m looking forward to being in Portland,” Wolflick said. “I live in a small town, so it will be nice to be in a different environment.”

Like others in the program, Wolflick chose the guarantee to help him stay on track and finish. “I want to make sure I don’t drag it out,” he said.