If you've asked that question, you are not alone. Each year students are surprised to learn that they must notify the University of their plans to graduate.
The short answer is this: We do not know your plans from one term to the next. You may intend to go four years (or eight semesters) straight and be done. However, many students take longer than eight semesters to complete their undergraduate degrees. Work, family, and money are just a few reasons why a student may have to go part-time for a semester or two, thus pushing back the graduation date.
Bottom line: We will not know when you plan to finish your degree until you tell us.
Applying to graduate sets in motion processes designed to ensure that you meet all the graduation requirements. Specifically, it will generate for you an initial degree audit. Your completed course work will be compared to the course work required for your degree and program of study. You and your advisor will use the audit to guide your course selection for upcoming terms in order to complete your program at the earliest possible date.
PLANS CAN CHANGE
There is no penalty for rescheduling your graduation, but you may need to reapply if your new intended graduation date is in a different academic year. (Academic years run August 1 - July 31.)
HOW TO APPLY
Use the Undergraduate Application or Graduate Graduation Application as appropriate. Additional instructions are on the form itself.
Additionally, you must fulfill all requirements for graduation in order to receive your degree. A checklist of all requirements is also available.