Florida Schools to Charge for Excess Credit Hours

The Sunshine State will try a new approach, hoping to create more space in classes.

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Here's another ray of recession sunshine for students at Florida's public universities and community colleges: The state will start charging students who begin their freshman year in 2009 half the cost of a credit for extra credit hours taken at state schools, the University of South Florida's Oracle reports.

The price of excess credit will fluctuate with tuition fees, so expect to see the fee rise, says Glen Besterfield, associate dean of undergraduate studies at USF.

It's a creative way to make some money off kids who take large numbers of credits. Only 120 credits are needed to graduate from Florida schools, like most places, and many students go way over that number before graduating.

"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 tells the Oracle. "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."

If payments aren't made, schools like USF are considering ways to force a student's hand. Angela DeBose, director of the school's registrar's office, says students might not be able to register for classes or obtain a transcript if there are outstanding payments due. And if the student is nearing graduation, they may not get their diploma or earn a degree.

The Oracle reports that the credits that are counted include all credits taken at a state or community college, even failed, repeated, and dropped courses. A number of credits will be exempted from the new fee: credits from classes taken more than twice; from another school that don't count toward a degree; from a second major; internships; Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate courses; certificate and certification courses; remedial and English-as-a-second-language courses; and any classes taken by active-duty military personnel.

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