Modifications would also help current students get into courses
UPDATE: (November 13, 2012) California State University Trustees have postponed reviewing a plan to improve access and reduce time to degree. The proposal to modify the current undergraduate fee structure was part of the agenda for today’s Board of Trustees meeting and will now be reviewed at a later date after Trustees gather additional information and input from stakeholders.
(November 8, 2012) – Up to 18,000 additional students could be admitted to the California State University and thousands of new seats opened up in classes for current students under a plan to improve access that will be considered by the trustees at the November 13/14 board meeting. The plan – a slight revision of the plan presented to Trustees in September – is intended to help students get the courses they need, allow campuses to admit additional eligible students, and shorten the time it takes students to graduate. At the heart of the proposal is a focus on changing student behavior by modifying the current systemwide fee structure for undergraduates.
“It is critical that we provide additional opportunities for eligible students to be admitted to the CSU,” said Ephraim P. Smith, CSU executive vice chancellor and chief academic officer. “With massive budget cuts, we have had to deny admissions to over 20,000 students who did everything right. These changes are meant to provide more access for incoming freshmen and transfer students by helping current students to graduate in a more timely manner. Also, these provisions will free up more seats for current students to make better progress to a degree.”
The modifications to the fee structure include:
A graduation incentive fee. More than 80 percent of CSU degree programs require 120 semester units to graduate. About six percent of seniors or 9,000 students are “super seniors” – students that have completed at least 150 units of coursework. In 2013, students who have earned 160 semester units/240 quarter units or more at the CSU– the equivalent of more than one academic year of full-time coursework beyond what is required to graduate – will pay a supplemental fee for units beyond 160. The 160 unit threshold will be reduced to 150 units in fall 2014.
Under this modification, every student who entered the CSU as a first-time freshman will be able to earn 150 units – Advanced Placement credit and credit earned from military service will not count against the threshold – and every upper-division transfer will be allowed to earn 80 units (75 in 2014) at the CSU before the graduate incentive fee is charged.
The graduation of this group of “super seniors” would open admission slots for an estimated 9,000 other eligible CSU applicants while also increasing graduation rates.
Third-tier tuition fee. CSU sets its tuition fees not on a per-unit basis, but in two tiers with students paying one rate to take six semester units or fewer and another rate to take more than six units. Systemwide, the average student load is 12 units per term. Under the plan, a third tier tuition fee would take effect beginning with the 18th unit and would be assessed for that unit and every additional unit. This could free up 32,000 seats in courses each year for current students or the equivalent of enrolling 4,000 new students.
Course repeat fee. CSU estimates that there are 10 course repeats per 100 undergraduates each term. This means there are more than 40,000 seats in state-supported classes that are occupied by students who have already taken the course. As part of the plan, students who repeat a course would pay an extra fee. This is aimed at helping students to make careful decisions, and allow more access for students who have not taken the course. If the CSU reduced course repeats by half, it would be the equivalent of admitting 5,000 new students.
Ultimately, it is expected that relatively few CSU students will end up paying any of these three proposed fees. Instead, the “price signals” are expected to lead to better decision-making by students when registering for courses. This frees up “seats” and allows current students to get the courses they really need to graduate. In addition, each semester saved in shortened time-to-degree represents more than $4,000 in savings to students for tuition fees, campus-based fees, books and supplies.
All three of the new fees will be assessed on a per-unit basis and no student will be assessed more than one of the three fees in a given term. There will also be exceptions made for individuals who face unanticipated circumstances.
If approved by the board, the modifications to the fee structure will be implemented in fall 2013 and CSU will begin communicating and providing advisement on the new policies to students immediately. The Board of Trustees will also receive a report detailing the outcomes for students at the end of each of the next two academic years.