Opinion: Ohio House Bill 593 aims to outlaw overload fees

Ray Paoletta

Ray Paoletta

Graduating from college in four quick, easy and painless years is easier said than done. From failing a class to dropping a class, or not being able to get into a required class, many students find it difficult to graduate in four years without overloading credit hours each semester. The problem students face is that many universities, including Kent State, charge students an additional fee for any hours taken above a certain threshold. At Kent State, students who take more than 16 hours are charged a fee of $447 per hour above 16 credit hours.

Overload fees can add up and become extremely expensive for students who already find they deal with huge amounts of student loan debt. What are the other alternatives? Putting off graduation by taking and paying for an extra semester, which adds more wait time to finding a job. All of these options add to the debt students find themselves in after college graduation. However, State Representative Anthony DeVitis, a Republican from Green, looks to make college more affordable. House Bill 593 would prohibit state universities from charging an overload fee for credit hours 18 and fewer.

Although this bill was introduced in July, it has not gotten the attention and publicity it should receive. University students pay an extreme amount of money to receive a higher education and they are penalized by many universities for wanting to graduate sooner than later. DeVitis agrees, stating, “Students should not be penalized for attempting to complete a degree in a timely fashion. It is my goal to help college students keep tuition costs down who are not enrolled in more than 18 credit hours of courses per semester, or the equivalent number of credit hours per quarter as determined by the board of trustees of the institution.”

House Bill 593 has bipartisan support with cosponsors from both sides of the aisle. Interestingly enough however, Representative Kathleen Clyde, a Democrat who represents Kent and proclaims to be an advocate for affordable college education did not cosponsor this bill. In addition, this bill does not look to find a way that universities can make up the lost revenue. This bill simply gets rid of overload fees for those who take 18 credit hours or fewer. College students across the state should get the word out about this bill.

To an average person, it is easy to overlook college students. That is why it is imperative for college students to speak up and let the government and the ordinary person know that this is a bill that needs to be passed. With costs rising from many directions for students, they cannot afford, literally, for House Bill 593 not to pass. It is time to put pressure on the Ohio House to act on this bill by contacting state legislatures in support of a real bipartisan effort to make college more affordable.

Ray Paoletta is a junior political science major and a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].