Course overload fees still of concern to state representative

Hannah Armenta

This November, credit hour caps for less than 18 credit hours could become illegal for colleges in the state of Ohio.

State Representative Anthony DeVitis introduced a house bill this July that, if passed, will eliminate course overload fees for college students. 

Ohio State House Bill 593, which will be presented in November when the house is back in session, will prohibit institutions of higher education from charging overload fees to students who are taking less than 18 credit hours per semester. 

With this bill, universities will still be able to impose a credit cap, but will not be able to charge students overload fees until they go over 18 credit hours.

The bipartisan bill has 22 co-sponsors, including the chairman of the Ohio House of Representatives education committee, Gerald Stebelton.  

“If you take 16 credit hours per semester, you can barley make the credit hours for a degree in four years,” DeVitis said. “I believe this bill will help students graduate on time with less debt.” 

A similar bill was presented to the Ohio State Senate in March 2012 but was never passed. 

However, DeVitis believes the precise language of HB 593 is what will get it through to the voting floor. 

“The singular difference is there is no language in the bill that allows schools to make up for the difference,” DeVitis said. “Such as, if normally they would cut a student off at 16 hours and now they’re cutting them off at 18, there is not some other fee they can assess to the students to compensate for that.”

Kent State isn’t the only Ohio university with a credit cap. Students at multiple universities across Ohio, including Ohio State and Akron, face these charges if they go over the school’s credit limit. 

KSU President Beverly Warren has spoken out against the overload fees and is working to eliminate them. 

“You know, I’ve been fairly public about this that I don’t like the overload charge,” Warren said. “I think it promotes behavior counter to our ‘Got 15?’ plan and making sure that students take a sufficient amount of hours to graduate in four years.” 

Got 15? is a campaign by Kent State that challenges students to take 15 credit hours a semester so students can finish their degree in four years. 

The big issues of concern in lifting the course overload fee are the university’s budget and students taking on too many credit hours. 

“We now are somewhat dependent on the revenue that we gain from that overload charge because it was part of the overall budget formulation,” Warren said. “So I’m working with senior administration and particularly the vice president of finance and administration to help me chart a way to eliminate the overload and yet be able to make our budget.” 

Students taking on too many credit hours over subsequent semesters also is of concern to the university. 

“Students can take 19 and 20 credits a semester and be successful,” KSU Provost Todd Diacon said. “However, it can’t be done regularly. Students who take 19 or 20 credits a semester are the students who could be getting As, but are getting Cs.”

Currently the credit hour cap at Kent is set at 17 credit hours. If the bill passes, KSU would have to move their credit cap to 18 credit hours and would be forced to get rid of their current overload fees.

“Once students get into the 19 and 20 hour range, that is when I think we should start charging them,” Diacon said. 

If HB 593 isn’t presented this November, DeVitis has plans to reintroduce it next session. 

Contact Hannah at [email protected].