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Students pay price for overloading classes

Last Fall Quarter, 16 percent of Ohio State undergraduate students were registered for more than 18 credit hours.

With the addition of a new fee this semester for students “overloading” courses, that number has dropped to less than 1 percent of undergraduate students.

Resident students enrolled in additional credit hours on the Columbus campus will pay an extra $382 in instructional charges per credit hour and a $15.50 general fee per credit hour, totalling $397.50.

Out-of-state students will pay the $382 per extra credit hour plus a $642 non-resident fee and a $15.50 general fee, totaling $1,039.50 on top of regular tuition for each additional credit hour enrolled in past 18.

The fee is smaller at regional campuses, where resident students are only charged $288 in instructional fees and a $9.50 general fee per extra credit hour.

As of last Monday, University Registrar Brad Myers, said only 329 students are enrolled in 18 or more credit hours for the semester. He said the number will fluctuate slightly over the next few weeks as students add and drop classes, but that number pales in comparison to the 8,370 students who were enrolled in more than 18 hours last fall, a number that was taken on the first day of Fall Quarter classes last year.

The roughly 16 percent of students taking more than 18 hours of class dropped to 13 percent at the census date a few weeks into Fall Quarter 2011.

Ohio State’s chief financial officer Geoff Chatas said the university implemented the charge because they were losing money when students over enrolled.

“Some kids were taking way too many classes,” he said. “We just realized that we couldn’t continue to provide a product, unlimited credit hours, without covering some of the cost. That’s not fair to all the students if some are taking huge amounts of credit hours and others are taking less.”

Students enrolled in 12 to 18 credit hours will continue to pay tuition at a flat rate. Chatas said the six-credit-hour window gives students enough flexibility to schedule a normal course load without having to pay more.

“If you go beyond that, you’re now using the resources of the university and we’re going to charge a reasonable amount,” Chatas said.

The new academic fee has been implemented simultaneously with a tuition increase starting Fall Semester, a rate that saw a 3.5 percent increase for the 2012-2013 academic year over the previous year.

Chatas said the money collected from the fee will go to the general pool of funds for the different colleges, based on enrollment numbers in the college.

“If everyone is signing up for more psychology classes, it will go to the College of Arts and Sciences. If everyone is signing up for more engineering classes it will go to the College of Engineering,” he said. “It goes back into the general college to cover the costs.”

Kyle Fullmer, a second-year in psychology said that while he has never overloaded credit hours during his time at OSU, he would be discouraged from doing it now.

“It’s a little extensive. It will definitely deter more students from going over 18,” he said.

Fullmer said he thought the fee seemed high, but could see why it would be necessary.

While the fee implementation came at the same time as the semester conversion, Myers said the two are unrelated.

“Honestly, it’s happenstance. They had originally intended to put this in place fall a year ago,” he said. “It wasn’t specifically intended to be aligned with the semester conversion.”

Myers said OSU has been somewhat of an outlier with its previous flat rate tuition policy.

“Some institutions simply don’t plateau at all … they don’t stop at 12. At 13 they pay extra, at 14 they pay extra. That incremental increase of fees just keeps going up.”

Myers said other public Ohio institutions have some consideration for overload.

According to its website, Bowling Green University has a fee in place that charges students an extra $200 per credit hour past 19. The University of Cincinnati has a fee in place similar to OSU’s.

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