Credit hour cap might revert to old policy

Tristan Buirley

When the credit hour cap was implemented in 2012, many students and faculty protested, but after two years on campus, its days migh be numbered.

Some university and government officials have insinuated that the credit hour cap could be eliminated in the near future. Students currently pay a $440 fee for every credit hour they take over the maximum 16. When it will be removed is still to be determined.

“The fee was implemented to fund the debt service for the Foundations of Excellence initiative,” said Eric Mansfield, executive director of university media relations. “This initiative is allowing us to address deferred maintenance issues by providing both new space and renovating existing space.”

Matt Fitzgerald, a junior communication studies major, said he is eager to see the credit hour cap disappear.

“I think removing the credit hour cap will allow me to get ahead without having to worry about paying for an extra credit or two,” Fitzgerald said. “I really hope they remove the cap soon.”

In the 2013-2014 academic year, 2,243 undergraduate students were charged for additional hours for an estimated $1,663,300. In the 2014 fall semester, 1,873 undergraduate students were charged for additional hours for an estimated $1,408,600.

Provost Todd Diacon said removing the cap would benefit students, though he declined to comment if the university should remove the cap or not.

“We want students to graduate on time,” he said. “But if taking 16 hours and then 17 is going to make them pay, then there is a disconnect.”

Diacon said the current credit cap has a few negative effects on students. The provost gave one example of how a student taking 14 credit hours has the potential to take a three credit hour course and get ahead for graduation. The student won’t, however, because they would be taking 17 credit hours and therefore have to pay.

He said if students also have the opportunity to take a one credit hour classes to “add to (their) educational experience,” many often refuse to do so when at the cap because of the $440 cost of that one credit.

“This is unfortunate because those are the classes that let students expand and form small communities,” Diacon said.

Anna Richard, a senior visual communication design major, said she would never reach the credit hour cap but can see how removing the cap would be beneficial for students who take that many credits.

“I think for the people who do it, it will help them, but not a lot of people care because not a lot of people ever come close to reaching it,” Richard said. “The people that tend to go above and beyond, to be crazy enough to take more than the credit hour cap, are not super well-off financially. I think (removing the cap) will help them because it will help take the financial worries off the kids who are already proving themselves to be super motivated.”

Even Kent State President Beverly Warren said she is not happy about the credit hour cap, publicly admitting its faults.

“You know, I’ve been fairly public about this,” Warren said in an interview last month, “that I don’t like the overload charge. 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. So I’m not a fan of the overload charge. ”

Taylor Meade, a sophomore public relations major, said she sees the benefits that removing the credit hour cap could offer to both herself and other students.

“I think the credit cap would affect me because, although my schedule is kind of hectic, I would consider taking more credits,” Meade said. “Right now, I’m a student success leader, and the seminar I have to take is two credits, or there’s a no-credit workshop option. I’m having to take it for a workshop because I have 15 credits already and don’t want to pay the fee.”

Meade also noted the effects that removing the credit hour cap could have on Kent State students other than herself.

“I don’t think Kent State needs the cap to be removed,” she said, “but I think it would make a lot of students happy and make it easier to graduate on time, or even early.”

Warren said in her interview that she is working toward removing the credit hour cap, although she did not disclose when or how the university will do so.

“So, this will take me a little time, but I’m working at it almost every day,” Warren said. “I’d love to see us eliminate it, and that would be my objective.”

Contact Tristan Buirley at [email protected].