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Students will be charged for earning excess credit hours

Published: Sunday, August 23, 2009

Updated: Sunday, August 23, 2009 21:08

excess hours


Freshman and transfer students enrolling for the first time in Florida state universities and community colleges beginning in the 2009-10 academic school year will be susceptible to a surcharge for extra credit hours.

If a student exceeeds 120 percent of the number of credit hours required to earn their baccalaureate degree, then they are required to pay an additional 50 percent for each credit hour earned in excess.

According to the University Controller's Office Web site, students will be charged an extra $44.29 per excess credit hour in 2009-10. Glen Besterfield, associate dean of undergraduate studies, said this number will increase as tuition rates escalate in the next few years.

Besterfield said a typical degree is earned in 120 credit hours, so a student might pay excess charges if he or she were to earn more than 144 hours.

"When you have students who … are graduating in 170, 180 hours, what they are doing is taking seats in classrooms away from other students," Besterfield said. "So now we have an access issue — we can't admit more students if we've got students hanging around here longer than necessary to get their degree."

Director of the Registrar's Office, Angela DeBose, said action will be taken if a student fails to pay the excess hours surcharge.

"There would be a hold on the student's record that would prevent them from having certain privileges, like registration and the ability to obtain a transcript," DeBose said. "Their diploma could potentially be held if they're at the point of graduation or earning a degree until the payment is made."

When calculating the amount of credit hours earned, all credits taken at the state university will be counted — including failed courses, classes dropped after the add/drop deadline and repeated courses.

However, classes repeated more than twice will be exempt because students are required to pay tuition at 100 percent of the full cost of instruction upon enrolling in the course the third time

"The state has thought this out pretty well. We don't want to harm certain students," Besterfield said. "Who you do want to charge extra are those students who have been at this University for so long because they have changed their major five or six times and they have accrued so many credits that don't count towards their degree."

The excess hours surcharge was enacted by the 2009 Florida Legislature under Senate Bill 1696. The bill also includes revisions to the Florida Bright Futures Scholarship program and Florida residency requirements for the in-state tuition rate.

Gov. Charlie Crist approved the bill May 27.

According to the legislation, credit hours that fall under certain categories will not be counted in the excess hours total.

Transfer credits not applied to the final degree program, credits earned through an "articulated accelerated mechanism" such as Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate and credit hours earned through internship programs will be exempt from the total.

Also exempt are credit hours required for "certification, recertification or certificate programs," those taken by active-duty military personnel, remedial and English as a Second Language (ESOL) credits and credit hours required to achieve a double major.

Military science courses included in the Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program will not be included in ROTC students' credit hour total.

Courses that a student must withdraw from because of medical or personal hardship reasons also might not be counted.

The Academic Regulations Committee (ARC), comprised mostly of academic advisers, must review individual students' medical withdrawal hardships, Besterfield said.

The ARC consults with the professor, and typically it is only considered medical hardship when a student withdraws from all courses, he said.

Besterfield said there are thousands of USF students staying in college longer than needed to earn their degree.

"Some people would allude to the current economy. They can't get a job, so they're staying in college," Besterfield said. "This is not based upon the current economy … we saw this years ago. Many students change their majors, they withdraw from a lot of courses, they fail a lot of courses — I think it's a multitude of factors."

In the next two years, transfer students will likely be the first affected by the excess hours surcharge, Besterfield said. However, if students meet with their academic adviser and take degree-applicable courses, he said they're likely not to be affected.

"There will probably be 10 percent of students that will be affected by this, and probably rightfully so in many instances," Besterfield said. "They should have graduated already, they should have met with their academic adviser, they should have planned their college years a little bit better, they should have focused a little bit more."

Under the Senate bill, all state universities are required to notify students of the surcharge when they first enroll in the institution and again when they have earned the number of credit hours required for their baccalaureate degree program.

DeBose said the Online Access Student Information System (OASIS) will be used to monitor students' credit hours.

"If a student nears or approaches where they're about to trigger excess hours, we're going to notify them," DeBose said. "They're going to also see the charge on their student account."

The USF Office of the Registrar sent a mass e-mail Aug. 11 notifying undergraduate students of the excess hours surcharge.

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Wed Sep 11 2013 10:24
Right, because students are forced to pick a major right out of high school and decide later on what they really enjoy doing, they are being punished. The U.S. education system is the biggest joke in the world.
Sun Aug 28 2011 22:07
I hate this policy. I am currently facing this situation. I have no idea how I am going to pay for it, all my loans does not cover what I am being charged this semester. This was supposed to be my last semester but due to the economic hardship it is bringing to me, I have no idea if I'll be able to even complete my degree :'( It is a lot. I'm being charged 13,000 for one semester at a public university. No one even warned me about before, it just came as a surprised. I'm just praying the administrators will have a heart and let me finish.
Sat Dec 12 2009 07:29
I've been here for so long, and now I can truly say that USF is one of the worst schools, and FL is one of the worst states (administration-wise) that I've ever seen.
Thu Aug 27 2009 02:59
Do they honestly believe that we want to be here any longer than we have to be???? I challenge them to find ONE science major that has been able to obtain a degree in exactly 120 hours- WON'T HAPPEN! As long as they are getting rid of professors, enrolling more students than the campus can handle and limiting class options, we'll ALL be here for at least an extra year, if not more. Maybe if we didn't have to wait 2 years to get into organic I and II we could get on with the rest of our classes and get the heck out of here!
Your name
Mon Aug 24 2009 21:41
"profession out being a student"

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!!!! This is obviously coming from someone with a lot of family money, and has no idea of how hard it is for those like me who are struggling hard to complete their college education inspite of all the financial odds.

Mon Aug 24 2009 18:31
God forbid if someone doesn't complete every class they've taken over 5 years. With an average of 6 years to graduate all this is doing is forcing people to take longer to graduate in order to come up with more money. If I dropped 1 class per semester while taking 15 hours each semester, I still won't graduate on time because that 24 hours is used but I still have to retake those classes I dropped. There goes my minor, double major, fifth year or anything that would have forced me to need additional classes. I guess this means we can never change our majors.

So they cut financial aid and increase tuition and fees in the same breath.

Mon Aug 24 2009 16:29

That's not what this is about. Yes they like to collect money, but what they collect from us is meager compared to what they get from the state for getting students out of USF 'on time'. That's why they put this in place, as a measure to get students to not stick around after they've completed all their classes. They understand that students may need to take additional classes because the class schedule may not work out, but anything exceeding the estimate of 24 hours is overkill. This is a good policy not meant to be a detriment to students in general, but to those that make a profession out of being a student.

Mon Aug 24 2009 15:37
You WILL pay and PAY you MUST. I, Judy Genshaft need it for bonus money for her Administrative Friends.

Be quiet and get your education and move along you annying student , I have a Photo session ..... Judy has spoken

Mon Aug 24 2009 15:25
I agree with the comment made above. In addition, I know of many friends of mine who take extra classes (not required towards their degree) purely out of a quest to learn more and expand their horizons. I want to know if this university is actually saying that this is a bad thing for the students to do?? Isn't it going against the basic premise of gaining knowledge?!! If the university really intends to limit the knowledge that its students can gain by setting up such idiotic boundaries to what they can/can't learn, then I've made a bad choice of school.
Mon Aug 24 2009 09:35
I think that is a horrible idea. It's not our fault that USF doesn't offer all the classes a student needs every semester, so we are forced to take extra classes to keep scholarships and loans. It's all about the university and government make money off of poor students.

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