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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Excessive credits to cost students

    Students at Arizona universities who rack up excess credits without graduating will pay higher tuition under a newly enacted state law that targets undergrads who exceed a credit-hour cap.

    However, Arizona Board of Regents members are concerned that without considering each individual’s circumstances, those tuition surcharges could penalize students who have good reason to be on campus.

    “”I think it’s unfair to hit those who change majors or come in from community colleges,”” said regent Fred Boice. “”But the state’s not interested in subsidizing malingering students, and I agree with that.””

    The 2005 law establishes a 155-credit-hour ceiling for students in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree during the 2006-2007 school year.

    That cap will drop to 150 and 145 units successively over the next two years – approaching the average UA degree requirement of 120 credits.

    State funding would be cut off for post-threshold students and the added fees would kick in to recoup the costs of those individuals attending the university.

    The surcharge amounts will be determined this fall when the regents convene to set next year’s tuition rates, said Anne Barton, a board of regents spokeswoman.

    So far, only 183 of Arizona’s 117,000 students fall into violation of the new rule, some of whom have already graduated, said Mike Hunter, a board of regents lobbyist.

    Those students cost the state’s universities $1.9 million dollars in funding this year, Hunter said.

    “”If students are going to be charged extra, then their decisions need to be examined,”” said Hunter. “”If we can impact their behavior in a positive way and get them to graduate in a timely manner, that might be a good outcome.””

    Of the 37,000 students at the UA, a total of 42 are past the limit, said Richard Kroc, vice president of enrollment management.

    Out-of-state credits and credits earned toward degrees that require extra classes and licensing – like engineering, nursing or education – would be among the law’s exemptions, Kroc said.

    “”The intention of the law is to identify slackers,”” said Kroc. “”We’re still trying to pin them down.””

    Students who change majors or want to diversify their education shouldn’t be discouraged from taking advantage of what the UA has to offer, said President Robert Shelton.

    “”I want to be sure we’re not penalizing students for legitimate exploration of courses as they decide what career path they want to pursue,”” Shelton said. “”My sense is that the number of students who’re just fooling around is very small.””

    Several states’ legislatures have already ramped up tuition for exceeding coursework limits in public universities.

    North Carolina public colleges placed a 25 percent surcharge on undergrads taking more than 140 hours to complete a four-year program in 1993.

    Texas enacted a law in 1999 charging out-of-state rates to any student exceeding their coursework requirements by 45 credit hours, and the threshold drops to 30 hours this year.

    In recent years, Utah and Wisconsin universities have also followed the trend.

    “”I understand what they’re trying to do,”” said Matt Treglia, a first-year industrial engineering graduate student, who completed his undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee as valedictorian, with 169 credits.

    “”But they might be targeting students who are trying to learn a little more,”” said Treglia. “”(The surcharges) should also be grades-based.””

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