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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Legislative Brief: House limits credit-hour penalty bill

    PHOENIX – An Arizona law designed to save Arizona taxpayers millions of dollars annually by penalizing Arizona universities for students with too many credits was drastically reduced yesterday in a House committee.

    The bill, HB 2816, would limit the scope of the current Arizona law, which was designed to remove an estimated $8 million in state funding to students who have too many credit hours.

    The bill was heard by the House Committee on Universities, Community Colleges and Technology and would exempt certain incoming freshmen from the credit hour threshold.

    There is a virtual laundry list of exemptions for the bill, including degrees requiring credit hours above the threshold, post-baccalaureate degree programs, students pursuing two or more degrees simultaneously, university credits earned in an Arizona high school, community college credits not applied to the student’s degree program and transfer credits from a university in another state.

    Rep. Jennifer Burns (D-Tucson), the bill’s author, said some students under the current law were being unfairly punished for their ambition. She said some students’ total credit hours surpass the 150-credit threshold, the limit under current law.

    Her bill drew criticism from the vice-chairman of the committee, Rep. John Allen (R-Phoenix), who said subsidizing students who keep switching from one college to another was a waste of state money.

    “”It’s the (typical behavior) for professional students,”” Allen said.

    Burns defended herself, saying the particular portion of the bill to which Allen was referring came up while talking to men and women serving in the military.

    She said she was told that when active members of the military are called to serve overseas, they may later change their majors.

    Greg Fahey, UA vice president for government relations, said the UA estimated that under current law, it would lose about $3 million in state aid.

    Fahey said that amount would be “”significantly reduced”” under Burns’ bill, estimating the UA would lose $200,000 to $500,000.

    President Peter Likins told the Arizona Daily Wildcat last month the UA did not support the current credit hour threshold law, saying it unfairly punished hard-working students.

    “”It is a noble intent, but misguided,”” Likins said.

    He said there are few students who are in the university system who are “”lazy students”” who truly are taking classes needlessly, and certain UA programs, including nursing and engineering, require more credit hours than most programs.

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