Full course load

by Megan Boldt

Companies create gimmicks with the hope of gaining customer attention and a future purchase. “Buy two, get one free” and “items half off” are phrases often found in thrift shops and closeout sales. Recently, however, University students have begun to see similar advertisements posted across campus.
These half-price ads are not for cheap clothes or books; rather, University administrators are selling academic credits at wholesale.
Under a new tuition plan designed to come into effect fall semester, each credit students take beyond 12 will be half price. Each semester credit will cost $154.50, but every credit after 12 will cost only $77.25.
The Board of Regents approved the plan in March. According to Regent William Hogan II, the new tuition plan was suggested for two reasons.
“The number one reason the plan was created is to benefit the students,” Hogan said. “We want to encourage students to take a full load so they will not be hurt credit-wise under the new semester system. In addition to this, they will be receiving a break on tuition.”
The other reason administrators proposed the plan is because it will benefit the University. When credit loads increase, revenue to the University increases as well.
Peter Zetterberg, director of the Office of Planning and Analysis, said they had two choices.
“We either risk not enacting this plan and lose tuition revenue from the drop in credits or we offer students and incentive to take higher credit loads,” Zetterberg said. “With the later, the students also benefit.”
Hogan also added that the regents were quite pleased with the plan.
Although the plan appears to beneficial, unless students take a full load, they will not save money. This presents a problem to many students who work full time.
According to information gathered fall quarter of 1998, 16 percent of undergraduates are classified as part-time students. There are 25,903 undergraduate students at the University — of these, 4,095 are taking less than 12 quarter credits.
Further, only 11 percent of extension students are classified as full-time. Of the 10,358 extension students at the University, only 1,158 take more than 12 credits.
For some of these part-time students, taking lighter loads is not a choice, it’s a necessity.
“Unfortunately, the credit load is too high for me under the plan, being a part-time student. I have to work, so there is no way I can take a full load,” said Tammy Tucker, an extension student, who was excited to see the new tuition plan.
She is not alone. The University is known for having a large working student population. According to Zetterberg, 80 percent of students work and about two-thirds take a full load each quarter.
“Students need to realize the shorter amount of time they spend in school, the sooner the are in the work force,” Zetterberg said. “Working a huge amount of hours is not always in their best interest.”
He added that students need to make individual decisions on how they plan on handling work and school at the same time.
Tucker said she found it interesting that the plan would affect full-time students.
“Many students have loans, scholarships, financial aid and/or parental help,” she said. “Will these students take advantage of the discounted credits?”
With some students not facing the financial burden presently, they do not seem to realize the money they would be saving. Either they don’t have to pay off their loans until they graduate or they don’t have to pay at all.
“My parents pay, so it doesn’t affect me as much. I would like to save them money, but if it’s going to stress me out, I am not going to take a heavier load,” said Katie Bonn, a junior in the College of Liberal Arts.
“It wouldn’t matter to me either way,” added Tony Thompson, a senior in the Institute of Technology. “The discounted credits aren’t worth the stress.”
Bonn also added that she is glad the administration is advertising the new tuition plan to students. With more students aware of the discount, they can take advantage of it.
Others like Wendy Rahn, a professor in the Department of Political Science, feel this is an excellent plan.
“In general this plan is a necessary thing for students to complete their college education,” Rahn said. “Students at the University of Minnesota are not used to taking as many courses. This financial incentive is a necessity.”
With a diverse student body, it is hard to say how the new tuition plan will affect how a student chooses his or her course load. Zetterberg said University officials will be looking into the registration database to get a preliminary reading to see if course loads are heavier.
“We will not have an accurate reading until about two weeks into fall semester,” he said.