Florida Charges Extra for Extra Learning

Apparently Florida’s public colleges may soon charge students more money if they try to learn too much, essentially. According to an article by Denise-Marie Balona in the Orlando Sentinel:

Florida’s public universities have doubled the fee they charge students who take more classes than they need for graduation.

Starting this school year, students will pay an “excess hour” fee that’s equal to tuition on all courses they take after they complete a certain number of credit hours — 115 percent of what’s necessary to earn a bachelor’s degree. So if a degree program requires 120 credit hours, for example, students would pay twice as much for classes after they’ve racked up 138 credit hours. That means if a three-hour course costs $310 in tuition, students would end up paying $620 once the fee is tacked on.

The stated goal of the new policy is to get students earning degrees on time. The trouble with this tactic is that it’s based on the assumption that students take too many courses because they’re just too flighty and undecided to earn a degree. This might be true sometimes but in many cases students also have trouble graduating on time because of course scheduling problems.

Courses fill up quickly at large state universities. If students can’t register for the classes they need for their majors, they’ll sign up for other classes. They have to just to stay eligible for financial aid.

According to the article, the new policy is also likely to be trouble for transfer students from community colleges. Such students often enter Florida state schools with many credits, though not necessarily in classes needed for their major.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer